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Weymouth coach urges his team to guarantee survival
PAUL Harding has challenged Weymouth to all but guarantee their survival by winning at basement boys Swindon Supermarine on Saturday (2.30pm).
The Monmouth Avenue outfit have suffered a major slump since the turn of year, losing four of their last five games, but their head coach saw enough in last weekend’s 24-8 defeat at Wootton Bassett to fill him with confidence going into this weekend.
Harding told Echosport: “It was a bit frustrating at Wootton because it was a much-improved performance and had we been more clinical it would have been a lot closer.
“It was certainly a step in the right direction and as long as we have another decent side out tomorrow at Swindon Supermarine we should hopefully get a result.
“If we could get a good win there it would pretty much ensure our status in this league for next season but if we don’t then we could start to make life hard for ourselves.”
Weymouth currently sit ninth in Southern Counties South, 14 points above the bottom two with games in hand on all of the teams below them.
Harding went on to add: “We need to get some points this weekend because the last thing we want is to get dragged into the bear pit down the bottom.
“It’s a two-and-a-half hour trip to Super-marine so it will be interesting to see what we travel with because it will all come down to availability.
“That is just the way it is for all the clubs at this level but I am sure whoever makes it will do their utmost to get a result.”
One man who looks set to miss out is fly-half Nick Sheppard. Harding continued: “Nick has tickets for the England versus France game and there are a few others that have made other plans too.
“That is the problem with rearranged fixtures so we will just have to wait and see who is available and who isn’t.”
Joe Gibson, Harry Charles, Max Vallance, Sam Morris, Gareth Iles, Adam Hoxey and Will Quick all missed the Wootton clash but Harding is hopeful of seeing at least a couple of them return tomorrow.
Southern Counties South rivals Dorch-ester have no game this weekend while Bridport host in-form Blandford in Dorset & Wilts One South (2.30pm).
The Blues have lost five out of their last six while Blandford are on a run of seven straight league wins.
Bridport team manager Arthur Barclay said: “They have come good recently and are on a really good run at the moment.
“It won’t be the nicest time to play them but we’ve got to face them some time and at least we are at home.”
Elsewhere, Puddletown will be looking to bounce back from last week’s Dorset & Wilts Two South defeat at New Milton Seconds, when they welcome another Hampshire side, Ellingham & Ringwood Seconds, to Greenfields (2.15pm).
Back in September the fifth-placed Villagers came away from the fixture at Ringwood with a 22-20 win under their belts, and so have the opportunity of a third double of the season.
However, the visitors, who sit just two league places behind, will have their sights set firmly on spoiling that ambition.
Fly-half Barry Dovell, and front-rowers Tim Yeatman and Jez Michael-Beale return for Puddletown, all three having missed the New Milton trip.
Finally, Swanage & Wareham travel to Bletchley in South West One East.
The Swans currently sit at the foot of the table, nine points adrift of third-bottom Newbury Blues.