NEIL Mitchell says this Saturday’s trip to Preston Grasshoppers is the fixture he fears most.
Stourbridge RFC’s director of rugby takes his league leaders to Lancashire protecting a perfect record in National League Two North of 13 bonus points wins from 13 games.
The clash with the third-placed Grasshoppers is the last in a run of four games against title rivals and Mitchell admits the timing of the fixture, along with the difficulty of the opponent, makes it both important and dangerous.
He said: “Of all the games, this is the one I fear.
“I watched Preston’s recruitment with interest over the summer, they boxed very clever.
“A few weeks ago they were a little bit off the pace but I was telling people to watch out for them, I knew they would start to climb and they have.
“The first thing I look at is defence and they have good statistics.
“If you can keep your defence sound and then make the most of your attacking chances it is half the battle in rugby.
“For me this is a really important game, if we don’t go in fully focused we could come a cropper.
“We don’t want people looking ahead to what on paper are easier fixtures. We have to concentrate.”
After their superb win over second-placed Hull Ionians last time out, Stour were without a game last Saturday but wasted no time resting, with players holding a gym session last Thursday.
Mitchell stressed the importance of keeping momentum.
He said: “The lads were quite keen to come in and do something, we didn’t want to not encourage them.
“It’s all about keeping the intensity.”
He added: “The message I’ll be giving the players this weekend is Preston have one or two very good players but we have 15 of them.
“They are a very good side and deserve to be where they are in the league.
“But if we are being honest the only team who can beat us, is us.
“If we play to our strengths there is something going seriously wrong if we don’t get the victory.”
Long-term injury concerns Richard Stott and Tom Jarvis are the only absentees for the trip north.