BURTON RFC coach Steve Smith is anticipating a tougher task away to Northwich on Saturday than they faced in the reverse fixture back in November.
Then, the Crofters raced to an 80-0 victory on home soil against a team second-bottom in the league, but Smith believes the long trip to Cheshire might not prove quite so fruitful.
He said: “In the home fixture against Northwich, we cut loose, scoring loads of tries almost at will, but we expect a much tougher contest at home.
“The opposition have proved more than a handful for most teams.
“Our back-line has the pace to again cut free and score points, but the pack will be tasked to ensure that we win enough ball to enable us to stretch the opposition defence, which I am sure we can do with the players on the pitch.”
With four games remaining in the Midlands 1 West season, promotion is beyond Burton now, but they would love to leapfrog local rivals Lichfield to finish second.
Smith said: “The next four games are important for our development as a side and the club as we look forward to next season.”
Since joining the league in the summer, this week’s opponents have struggled and they have won only three of their games so far.
However, they did comprehensively beat rock-bottom Camp Hill 42-8 in their last fixture, and have also recorded wins over Berkswell & Balsall (22-0) and Ludlow (46-27).
Smith will welcome Dave Archer, Lewis Brooks and Simon Bradley into the starting line-up, with the coach admitting that his team selection had proved more of a headache than usual.
He said: “Only six of the squad from two weeks ago attending training this week due to holidays and work commitments.
“With this in mind, the team will see the return of Dave Archer and Lewis Brooks.”
Archer is one of the top three try-scorers in the league, and will start at full-back, while Brooks will be returning to his usual centre berth.
The pack sees Simon Bradley rewarded for his performance against Hereford with a starting place, but Smith challenged him to “perform in both the set piece and in open play” to keep ahead of Tom Murphy and a fit-again Matt Tivey in the pecking order.
With several players on holiday, the back row will be made up of Kelvin Browne, Joe Briggs and James Burrough, while the make-up of the bench will be agreed following training.
Members are reminded about their Spring Raffle tickets, which need to be sold and counterfoils returned by 2pm tomorrow, as the draw will be held after the A team’s game against Dudley Kingswinford.
Other matches involving teams at the club this weekend include the A and B teams at home against Dudley and Tamworth respectively, both kicking off at 3pm.