ANTHONY MURRAY accepts North Wales Crusaders’ clash with Gloucestershire All Golds tomorrow is ‘must-win’ in their bid to claim silverware.
Crusaders know that victory tomorrow at Queensway Stadium (2.30pm) and two further points from next week’s trip to Oxford would confirm a place in the League One Shield final where they would face an away clash at Newcastle Thunder.
However, Coventry Bears - a point behind Cru - travel to Newcastle tomorrow and if they were to lose, a win in Wrexham this weekend would secure a final berth for the Wrexham-based outfit.
But Murray admits his squad must show much improved form than their past two outings if they are to buck the trend of back-to-back defeats at Newcastle (30-14) and at home to Coventry (30-28).
“We need to win, there’s no two ways about it,” said head coach Murray, who is without Kenny Baker and Simon Atherton for tomorrow’s clash.
“We play at 2.30pm and Newcastle play Coventry at 5pm, so if we can win it will put pressure on them, and if Newcastle do us a favour, it’d be a nice feeling Saturday night knowing we’ve qualified for the final.
“It’s not going to be easy, we’ve struggled in our past two games and it’s a game we won’t win if we put in a performance like we did against Coventry at home.
“This is one we need to win. It’d be good for the players to reach the final and to do themselves justice. For some of the lads it could be their final game in Wrexham, so I’m sure they’ll want to put in a good display with their future’s uncertain.
“But it’s must-win for sure. Those past two games have gone and now we can only focus on Gloucestershire and then Oxford, and if we pick up two wins, we know we’re in the final.”
Murray believes the All Golds, who have seen several first-team players pen new contracts for 2017, are ‘dangerous opponents’ who could hurt Crusaders if they are allowed too much of the ball.
“I’m hoping the players will be refreshed as it’s been three weeks since we last had a game,” he added.
“We’ve had them back in at training and we want to get out there at Queensway and do ourselves justice, our destiny is in our hands.
“Losing Kenny and Simon is a massive blow but all being well we’ve got the rest of the squad fully fit so hopefully we’ll have enough.
“Gloucestershire are a really improving side though who will be aiming to finish the season strongly. If we keep making silly mistakes and giving away penalties, we’ll get punished.
“They’ve got several players signed up for next season already, so those lads will be full of confidence and in good spirits knowing they’ve got that stability.
“That can be a dangerous thing for opponent’s to have so we’ve got to be careful. Year in year out they continue to impress and it will be nothing if not difficult this weekend.”
First-team regulars Jack Hansen, Jonny Walker, Stephen Wild and Rob Massam are expected to keep their places in the Crusaders’ line-up.
Tickets for tomorrow’s clash at Queensway are priced at £12 for adults, £8 for concessions and £5 for children, with under 7s admitted free of charge. Gates open at 1.30pm.
Elsewhere in the Shield, South Wales Scorpions host Hemel Stags while in the Super Eights, title favourites Toulouse head to Hunslet Hawks.
On Sunday, Keighley Cougars go to Barrow Raiders while Rochdale Hornets entertain Doncaster.
See full story in the Leader