NORTH WALES CRUSADERS must ‘recharge the batteries’ according to Anthony Murray after their latest defeat at home to Coventry Bears.
The Wrexham-based outfit, who were playing at their temporary home venue of Chester’s Hare Lane, led for 75 minutes of their latest League One Shield encounter but were dealt a late blow as Coventry claimed the points in a 30-28 win.
Crusaders now have a three-week break before they face Gloucestershire All Golds at Wrexham’s Queensway Stadium on September 4 and head coach Murray has given his ‘jaded’ players the week off to rest before the crucial end of season run-in.
Crusaders stand just one win away from a place in the Shield final, where they would face Newcastle Thunder in the final.
“We’ve looked tired the past few weeks, we’ve had long away trips to Newcastle and Hemel and I think it’s caught up with the lads,” said Murray.
“It’s massively important the players take this week to rest up. We won’t train, it’s a week off for them and it’s a chance for everyone to recharge the batteries ahead of an important final two matches.
“In training myself and Adam Daniels (conditioning coach) had identified we look tired and I felt we were jaded on Sunday. I spoke with the match officials post match and asked them for their assessment and they felt we faded in the final 20 minutes as well.
“You look at where we’ve come from, from having a bare 15 players to face Barrow on the opening day, to a healthy-looking 22-man squad who narrowly missed out on the Super Eights, it’s bound to take it’s toll physically and mentally on what is a young group of players.
“We’ve got the chance now to rest up and get ready for Gloucestershire, which will be tough. The players should remember how far they’ve all come and be proud of their efforts, and now get ready for a big push.”
Murray blamed several costly individual errors for the defeat at Hare Lane, against a Coventry side who have closed the gap on second-placed Crusaders to just three points with a game in hand in the race for a berth in the Shield final.
“To be honest, it’s the story of our season,” he admitted. “Individual errors have cost us the game once more and it’s frustrating, but it’s a chance to learn from our mistakes.
“We were really good in the first-half and at 18-6 we looked in control but we’ve allowed them back in just before the break.
“We spoke at half-time about upping our enthusiasm and intensity but Coventry flew out of the blocks and were too strong for us in that initial 10 minutes.
“But we’ve then scored a lovely try to retake the lead but again it’s two more errors for their tries, and then finally we’ve given away a soft penalty 30 yards from goal and they’ve kicked it home.
“These are stupid mistakes we’re making but a rest will do everyone the world of good and we’ll focus on the positives from our display when we return for training in a week.
“The main positive to focus on is we remain just one win away from a spot in the Shield final.
“We can’t lose sight of that and if we could reach a final after the year we’ve had, I think the players would deserve immense credit.”