MIKE GRADY says North Wales Crusaders are ‘refreshed and energised’ heading into their crucial remaining League One Shield fixtures.
Last weekend’s Challenge Cup final resulted in a fixture-free Sunday for most clubs and Grady’s squad has benefited from the enforced break.
Currently third in the standings, the Wrexham side have just three games remaining to secure a top-two finish and a Shield final berth.
Ahead of Sunday’s home clash with Coventry Bears, Grady believes the time off came at the right time for his players.
He said: “It’s been a really good break, I think, and it’s allowed some of our players to overcome a few of the knocks and niggling injuries they were struggling with.
“There has been a lot of tough games in recent weeks which have involved a lot of travelling for our away fixtures.
“We’ve had a lighter training sessions in this last week or so and I think it’s done the players a lot of good.
“They’re refreshed and energised now and looking to finish this season as strongly as possible to earn themselves a place in the final.
“It’s only Earl Hurst that we have missing for the Coventry game, otherwise we’re pretty much at full-strength.”
The Cru claimed a 36-13 away win in their away encounter with the Bears last month when a strong second half performance clinched the victory.
“It was a pretty tight up until half-time when we were five points ahead at the break” Grady added. “We were pretty poor in that first half and allowed them to have a lot of the ball. But came out much stronger in the second and made it a totally different game.
“We regrouped and played much quicker and more directly and we managed to run in four really good tries to pick up a really important win.
“We know this will be another tough game, as they all are in this division, but we’re ready for it and fully focused on trying to get to that final.
“I’m sure there are still some twists and turns ahead for the top two clubs because London still have to play teams like Gloucestershire, so anything can happen there.
“We just have to focus on ourselves and try to ensure we take maximum points from the next three matches.
“Hopefully another side can do us a favour too and we can get ourselves into that Shield final next month.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, leaders London Skolars host Hemel Stags, second-placed Hunslet are at home to South Wales Ironmen, while Oxford visit Gloucestershire All Golds.
Super Eight pacesetters Toronto Wolfpack, who host Whitehaven, have signed Widnes centre Tom Armstrong.
The 27-year-old former St Helens, Leigh, Sheffield Eagles and Swinton player is the first confirmed signing for the Canadian club, who need to win two of their last three league games to clinch promotion from Kingstone Press League 1.
Toronto director of rugby Brian Noble said: "We are pleased to have acquired a player of the calibre of Tom, a player of Super League quality with great development potential which we are sure he will fulfil during this exciting phase for the Wolfpack.
"Tom will be the first of a number of significant signings for the club which we will be announcing over forthcoming weeks which I'm sure will have the Wolfpack fans buzzing."
The Wolfpack are being linked with a host of big-name signings as they prepare to make the step up to the Championship, including Warrington prop Ashton Sims and former Catalans Dragons forward Dave Taylor, who is currently with Canberra Raiders.
Barrow Raiders face Cumbrian rivals Workington Town, Newcastle Thunder host Keighley Cougars and Doncaster visit York City Knights.
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