By Claire Cameron
WITH just eight games of the National League Two North season left to play, Sedgley Tigers coach, Geoff Roberts, is hoping his troops can just go out and enjoy playing rugby for the remainder of the campaign.
The Tigers, who have all but secured a fourth-place finish, have very little to play for having fallen 22 points behind the promotion places with three successive defeats earlier this month.
After a fortnight’s break due to last week’s postponed match against Luctonians and a scheduled break this week, the Tigers travel to third-placed Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday expecting a tough encounter.
The Tigers narrowly beat the promotion-chasing side 23-21 in November but Roberts knows the main pressure is now on the hosts.
Roberts said: “People will say that teams like us have nothing to play for because we are not going to go up or down, but we still want to perform.
“It’s more a case of us playing, having a go and enjoying it.
“The pressure may be off us but this match is still an important one as the pressure is very much on DMP.
“They’ve got a decent pitch with a good surface, so at least it’s one we will be able to play rugby on.
“Like always we have got to front up in the forward battle and hopefully we can do okay. It would be nice to pull something off,” said Roberts.
Sedgley will have several players back from injury as they aim to win their first game since January 18.
Captain Juan Crous returns after a shoulder injury, Jonny Bishop is back and Jonny Matthews is also in contention after playing for England Counties. Steve Collins, who would have missed the Luctonians match due to a school skiing holiday, is also available.
However, Mike Waywell (finger) and scrum-half Callum McShane (groin) are both expected to miss the game.
Roberts said: “We will have one or two players back on Saturday, so hopefully we'll have something like our full strength squad to choose from.
“McShane will probably have to have an operation in the summer, so it’s a case of managing his injury at the moment.”
The Tigers coach, who has been less than impressed with the quality of the pitches in recent weeks due to the bad weather, said: “Hopefully the weather will be kind to us this week so that we can get a training session or two in before playing on Saturday.
“The pitches were bad last week so we had a gym session on Thursday just to blow the lungs out a bit.”
With the season drawing to a close, Roberts is also looking forward to next year.
He said: ““This season seems to have absolutely flown by.
“Over the summer we have to look at retaining the squad that we've got and look to recruit a little bit.
“We just need to build the squad up slightly. We don't feel we've got to do a lot really because we have quite a few young players in the squad.
“It's just a case of building and making sure we are ready for next season,” said Roberts.