Wolfpack in worrying form ahead of tough run
After a disappointing January, Gavin Hogg has urged his Bury St Edmunds RUFC side to evoke the spirit of the underdog over the coming weeks.
Of The Wolfpack’s four matches last month, three were against teams below them in the National League Two South standings.
Beforehand, Hogg had stressed the importance of those games, insisting that a trio of victories would put to bed any lingering relegation worries.
But Bury triumphed just once during that period, losing to London Irish Wild Geese and most recently Henley Hawks at The GK IPA Haberden on Saturday.
The defeat to Henley was an all too familiar one for Bury, who once again left themselves too much work to do after a lacklustre first half.
The Oxfordshire visitors scored their first try with just four minutes on the clock and went on to open up a 17-0 at the interval.
A brace of second-half tries from Sam Sterling and a solo effort from Sean Stapleton brought the hosts right back into contention, but ultimately the damage was done during the opening 40 minutes as Henley held out to win 27-21, with Bury doing enough to scoop a losing bonus point.
Such negative form means they head to third-placed Redruth tomorrow (2pm), followed by a home encounter with league-leading Chinnor on February 11, just seven points above the bottom three.
The odds will be stacked firmly against the Suffolk side in both encounters, but Hogg is hoping the players can use that to their advantage.
“Six points in January was not what we had envisaged or hoped for,” he said.
“It has put us in a position we did not want to be in and now there is plenty of hard work ahead.
“While in January there were games we had identified as very winnable, now we have a couple of games where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“There has been a lot of pressure and expectation in recent weeks, but that will be gone at Redruth.
“Redruth and Chinnor are both going for promotion and we know only too well how much pressure that brings.
“You have to keep winning, and that is not easy. Hopefully we can capitalise on any nerves.
“Anything we can get from these games, even a losing bonus point, it all counts.
“If those below us lose, suddenly the gap could be eight or nine points and that is two wins.”
Hogg will have to reshuffle his starting line-up for the long trip to Cornwall, with work commitments ruling out number eight Matt Edison.
Openside flanker Darren Gillespie will also play no part because of concussion, while a hip injury has ruled winger Chris Snelling out of contention.
Ex-Ospreys tighthead prop Cai Griffths will face a late fitness test on a back problem that flared up earlier this week.