Bury St Edmunds’ 14-day break came at the perfect time as they prepare for their biggest match of the season, according to Gavin Hogg.
The Suffolk side’s director of rugby and his coaching team have had extra sessions to prepare their team for a top-of-the-table clash in National Three London and South East at The Haberden tomorrow (3pm).
Bury were in a similar position when they went to former leaders Westcombe Park in November and came away with the right result then — something Hogg hopes his charges can repeat when leaders London Irish Wild Geese are in town this weekend.
“Having an extra week allows us to do a bit more preparation,” said Hogg.
“When we’ve got back-to-back fixtures, we’re usually dissecting the previous game most of Tuesday and have really then only got Thursday to focus on the next one.”
Not only will Bury be working on tackling the powerful threat offered up front by the Wild Geese, Hogg hopes he has the gameplan to unlock the current table-toppers in front an expected bumper crowd.
“We want to focus on what problems we can cause them,” he said. “If we can move their heavier forwards around the park, we can get our dynamic guys on the ball.”
The Wild Geese, relegated from National Two South last season, are one of the favourites for promotion this term and their only home defeat of the campaign to date came in the reverse fixture against Bury back on October 11.
That day, Bury were irrepressible, storming to a 47-17 triumph at Hazelwood — the training ground of the Wild Geese’s professional cousins London Irish.
“We are cautious in the fact that we caught them on a day we were at our best and they weren’t quite at theirs,” said Hogg. “We have to make sure we get our performance right again.
“We are under no illusions that, although we are good enough to beat any side in this league, they are on a good run and it will be a competitive game.”
Bury enter the match victorious in all three matches they have played in 2015 and Hogg is pleased his side avoided a banana skin at Westcliff last time out to set up this winner-takes-all encounter.
“We didn’t want to be in a situation where we had to win to get level with them, so it’s fantastic to be in a position where we can win a game to go top of the table again,” he added.
“If someone had offered that at the start of the season, we would have taken it.”
Matt Edison and Sam Bixby both return to the squad tomorrow, while Jesse Rush, who limped off in the Westcliff win, is fit for selection.
Hogg will be without George Bretag-Norris for the next two weeks after he suffered a fractured eye socket during their last outing, while Brad Cook (RAF duty), Ben Cooper (back) and Aaron Waters (lacking match fintess) also miss out. Recent signing Ben Enoka could be in line for his first involvement with the first XV, after gaining fitness with the second team (Wolfhounds).