1:30pm Thursday 16th February 2012
NEIL Mitchell admits Stourbridge are approaching the last-chance saloon in their bid to beat the drop.
The Saxons host fellow National One strugglers Cinderford at Stourton Park this Saturday in a game earmarked as “must-win” by the club’s director of rugby.
With eight games to go, Stour are 13 points adrift of safety and 15 behind the visitors, making defeat on Saturday almost unthinkable.
Mitchell said: “I wouldn’t say we were in the last-chance saloon just yet but we are almost through the swing doors.
“It’s impossible to over-emphasise the importance of Saturday’s game.
“Cinderford will come here thinking a win for them will almost see them safe.
“We have had chances earlier in the season to make things easier for ourselves but played poorly.
“It’s vital we make a strong start and get the crowd behind us. Too often we have started games badly and been left with too much to do.”
Mitchell will be sweating on the fitness of some key players after a bruising 44-7 defeat at league leaders Jersey last weekend.
In the only game to beat the weather, Ben Barkley aggravated a shoulder problem, while Robbie Hurrell suffered a knee ligament injury. There are also concerns over Andi Lawrence (neck) and James Rodley (shoulder).
Despite the defeat, Mitchell was encouraged by his side’s first-half showing in which they took the lead through a Jamie Hearn try and put the hosts under pressure.
He believes the time spent away on the Channel Islands will also have boosted team spirit.
Mitchell said: “The players gave it a real go from the off and in the first-half we had them under plenty of pressure.
“We just couldn’t capitalise on it and in the end they just proved too strong.
“I still feel we are a good side but we have played poorly at key times.
“In the dressing room at the end of the game I asked if anyone doesn’t believe we can get out of trouble.
“I didn’t see any raised hands.”
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