Gavin Hogg has warned his Bury St Edmunds side they cannot afford to lose any more games if they are to fulfil their title aspirations.
The Haberden-based outfit return to action tomorrow following a two-week break, having lost their grip on top spot in National Three London and South East after seeing their seven-match winning run halted in a 18-7 defeat at home to fourth-placed East Grinstead.
That enabled London Irish Wild Geese to seize first place, but with their nearest rivals facing a difficult trip to third-placed Westcombe Park, Bury’s director of rugby has challenged his charges avoid a repeat of the last match and capitalise on one of the title contenders dropping points.
“If we want to be challenging at the top, we can’t really afford to lose any more games,” he said, ahead of their own daunting trip to fifth placed Chichester (2.15pm). “If you look at the fixtures, sides at the top are facing each other and so for us it is a big opportunity to capitalise.
“We have spoken about the need to respond from the last defeat because all good sides will have a blip at some point, it is about how they respond that matters.
“We can’t afford to turn that disappointment into another defeat, we have to focus back on the task in hand and look to get on a winning run going into the Christmas period.
“Hopefully by going on a winning run, including against those around us, we can knock teams out of the title race along the way.”
If Bury are to go on another winning sequence they must avoid the mistakes made during the previous lacklustre display against East Grinstead.
And having enjoyed the luxury of a break from action, Hogg is adamant they are fully aware of what changes are needed to be implemented if they are to avoid a repeat performance at Oaklands Park.
“We went through the video from last week and the most disappointing thing was how we didn’t put enough pressure on East Grinstead,” he added. “We lacked a bit of the direction and purpose that we had in the previous weeks and we didn’t get a foothold in the game as we usually do.
“During the break, we have worked on our attacking set-up and so hopefully that proves evident in the coming weeks, starting at Chichester.”
Captain Chris Snelling will be unavailable for the trip and Scott Lewis remains a doubt for Bury, while it will also be the first game Bury will have to deal with the loss of Tanimo Samoa, whose visa has ran out.
And while Hogg is disappointed to lose the versatile star, he has challenged a number of his previously fringe players to step into the void and stake their own claim to a starting berth.
“One of Tanimo’s biggest assets was his versatility, he covered in everywhere and was
good where ever he
played,” he said. “In the back of our minds we knew he wasn’t going to be here and so it is great to have someone like Greg White to come in.
“He is a very good player and also equally as versatile which is valuable to have.
“We will also look to players like Jesse Rush to step up and do a job and this will be a big opportunity for him to make the jersey his own.
“It is also a case having an all round team performance rather than relying on individuals because to be successful you need to be able to use a squad rotation.”