Successive defeats at the hands of Gateshead Thunder and Hunslet Hawks has seen Hemel Stags drop tantalisingly out of the play off places with three fixtures left.
All is far from lost however, and Hemel now face sides they have already beaten at least once this season – Oldham RLFC, University of Gloucestershire All Golds and Oxford RLFC – to conclude their regular campaign.
Stags centre Michael Brown remains confident the team can gain sufficient points from those matches to clinch a coveted end of season play off place.
“We’ve still got our eyes on that fourth spot in the league,” said Brown. “We know what we need to do, we are confident and everyone is 100 per cent committed to do what it takes to get there.”
Hemel’s task was made harder by the weekend defeat to Hunslet, although the approachable Brown feels the team deserved more from a battling performance against a powerful Hawks side – many of whom believe will contest the divisional Grand Final at the start of October.
“I thought as a whole, we didn’t play badly against Hunslet but were unfortunately just beaten by a better team on the day,” said Brown.
“I thought for long periods of the game we were able to match Hunslet and keep them in the arm wrestle, but to their credit they scored a few really good tries through kicks which were very difficult to defend.
“I thought that we were very unlucky not to at least come away with a bonus point.”
Brown concluded by saying he hopes Hemel can reproduce the form shown against Oldham earlier this season, as the Stags prepare to tackle the Roughyeds for a third time on Sunday.
“I think going up to Oldham this weekend is going to be tough but both times we’ve played them this season we’ve managed to raise our game and come away with some points,” he said. “Hopefully we can do this again and take this into a strong finish for the season.
“We will take the good things that we did against Hunslet at the weekend and build on these through the week, and hopefully come away with the points in Oldham.”
Stags’ Eddie M’Baraga, meanwhile, has been selected in the Kingstone Press Championship One Team of the week following his tenacious performance in the 16-34 defeat against Hunslet.
The effervescent M’Baraga made a telling contribution from the interchange bench on Sunday, constantly penetrating a resolute Hawks defence as Hemel just come up short of attaining a precious bonus point.
Every week, each coach in the Kingstone Press Championship One is contacted to help put the awards together.