Banbridge Rugby Club are approaching a season-defining trio of fixtures.
Head Coach Daniel Soper says coming up are the ‘most important’ few weeks of their Division 2A campaign and he knows they could make or break his side’s promotion chances.
On Saturday, it’s second plays third as Bann host Cashel at Rifle Park (kick-off 2.30pm).
Bann are ahead only on points difference and are just three points behind leaders Malone. After Cashel, Soper’s side face a double-header against Queen’s and the boss isn’t down-playing the significance of those fixtures.
“These three games make up the most important phase of the season,” he said.
“What we’re going to see after this block of games will be a bit of a division in the table between team chasing the top and teams at the bottom.
“Everybody will play back to back games and they will have a big impact on the season.
“As regards the game against Cashel, it’s a big chance for us to give ourselves a cushion on them.”
The Tipperary side had begun the season with five straight wins. That was until they faced Ulster teams. Both Malone and Queen’s turned them over in recent weeks and now Bann are going for the hat-trick.
“We’ve done well so far this season, taking things game at a time looking at it in blocks and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” said Soper, keen to maintain their good form.
“Come the 12th of December, when we are finished this block of matches, we could be going into Christmas on a real high, everyone buzzing, or we could be left wondering where the season has gone.”
Bann haven’t played since their single point defeat to UCC, a gap of three weeks between matches.
“It’s probably quite a good thing,” pondered Soper. “It takes the pressure off for a couple of weeks when you don’t have the nagging thought of a big game that you have to get yourself mentally prepared for in your head. Physically, it gives the lads a rest from the demands of the game for a bit.
“We’ve gone into a mini pre-season phase and have hit the fitness hard for four sessions. The proof will be in the pudding really as we see whether it’s been good for us.”
Meanwhile, Banbridge centre Andy Morrison is set to return to the squad in the coming weeks.
Boss Daniel Soper had feared he would lose his star man until the end of the season with a cruciate ligament injury.
However, after an MRI scan, the surgen advised that good rehabilitation would prevent surgery.
Soper described Morrison as ‘the stand-out player’ for Banbridge over the last couple of years and he will be pleased to welcome his star man back earlier than he expected.