“Our detail in and the way we handle the pressure moments in the game is getting better. Due to that, we are winning games that earlier in the season, would have got away from us.”
Matt Salter, Head Coach
A brief glance into the 1st XV huddle on Saturday after the 21-15 win against Redruth tells you a lot about where the team is heading at this moment in time.
3 wins from the last 4 games, 16 points and a climb to 8th in the table; the start of 2019 has brought a run of good form and breathed confidence into the squad.
Despite some frustrations about the performance on Saturday, there was a key message Matt Salter was keen to impress upon his players....."our detail and the way we handle pressure moments in the game is getting better. The team's decision making, and accuracy is improving and we are winning games that earlier in the season, would have got away from us." In the corresponding fixture in October Clifton endured a torrid 2nd half conceding 50 points, the score on Saturday marked the shift in performance.
The arrival of Guernsey Raiders to Station Road on Saturday provides then another opportunity to measure the strength of Clifton's improvement. The island outfit have struggled in their first season in National 2, rooted to the bottom of the table having secured only 3 wins, notably though these include the double over Barnes and Clifton. The 28-3 win at Footes Lane Stadium saw the Lavender & Blacks fall to a resilient and dominant Guernsey side on a day where Clifton looked devoid of any structure and direction. Saturday therefore will provide an opportunity for the team to put the previous result to bed.
“We are going well at the moment, but you can’t afford to lose your focus in this league at all as it can change very quickly. Guernsey hurt us last time, they brought tempo and a lot of heart; we were poor in defence allowing them to dominate the contact area and our attack lacked edge. We have spent a lot of time this week looking at the detail in our units with Salts & Proth; on Thursday we will preview and focus on our defensive set up for the weekend and our attacking framework. We know what we have to do on Saturday but there are no easy games in this league as last time out against Guernsey proved”
Mike Barber, Defence Coach.
This week sees a return to training for Gloucester Academy back row Cam Terry following a brief absence due to injury sustained against Worthing along with fellow Academy winger, Tom Stanton. The Cheltenham College product joins Clifton on DR in place of Alex Morgan who has been called up to the Wales U20 Six Nations Squad by Gareth Davies.
Scrum Half Ross Pritchard also returns to training and Charlie Bullimore is in contention following his return to full fitness. Lock Matthew Davies and No8 Niall Gibbons are expected to be fit for Saturday along with Chris Levesley who limped off late in the second half against Redruth. Alex Giltrow remains unavailable as he continues his rehabilitation but there is good news in the possible return of second row Dave Hill.
Clifton Rugby v Guernsey Raiders | Saturday 26th January 2019 | Kick Off: 14:30
Updated 20:55 - 26 Jan 2019 by Sam Harrison