Play-off crunch comes as Harborough aim to climb
Market Harborough director of rugby Richard Bowden is confident the club can make it a weekend to remember and seal promotion.
They welcome Dronfield to Northampton Road tomorrow for the Midlands Two East play-off that will see the winner climb up and the loser face another season at the same level.
The sides meet by virtue of having finished runners-up in their respective divisions – Dronfield despite having lost their first three games of the season – knowing they are just one game away from promotion.
And Bowden believes the time is right for his men to take the step up.
“We’re always confident at home,” he explained.
“We’ve not lost at home all season and didn’t lose at home in the whole of 2018.
“That all counts for nothing in a one-off game but we always fancy our chances at home.
“Also, we’ve won eight on the trot and not lost since January – which was against (league champions) Olney so we’re in good form.
“The pleasing thing with a couple of those wins was we didn’t play very well but we stuck to our processes and managed to come out on top.”
Having put themselves in a position to get promoted, Bowden is also certain the club are in a good place to progress further should they take it.
“Milka Basra has scored 27 tries in the league, Laurence Joel has scored over 220 points with the boot and scoring tries, our No.8 (Chris Bale) has scored 17 tries and we’ve hopefully got our skipper Josh Purnell back after he got injured in the warm-up for our last game,” he said.
“On the pitch we’ve got good quality.
“But we’ve also got plans in place behind the scenes to make it a sustainable success – there’s a strategy in place to support it.
“We feel we can compete at the next level.
“Oadby Wyggs went up last year and have done well in Midlands One.
“If they can finish third this season I’m sure we can compete.
“I actually think if we were in that division now we would be mid-table.
“Sometimes it is actually harder to get up than to stay up.”
Bowden does admit he has little knowledge about the opponents who make the trip down from north Derbyshire this weekend.
Not that he is too concerned about that.
He added: “We don’t know a huge amount but we know that any team who finishes second must be quality because you end up where you deserve to be.
“We’ve not scouted them or anything.
“In many ways we’ve tried to play it down to our lads and treat it like just another game.
“If we execute how we’ve been playing recently we’ll be confident.
“We need to stick to our processes and keep doing what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve won eight in a row – hopefully now we can make it nine.”
The promotion play-off against Dronfield is at Northampton Road and kicks off at 3pm.