Top of the table clash for St Ives Roosters
- Credit: Archant
St Ives Roosters face a battle for the top play-off spot in the East Rugby League Premier on Saturday.
They travel to nearest challengers North Herts Crusaders with the winner guaranteed top spot in the table and top seeding for the play-offs which start the following Saturday (August 9).
The two sides have virtually identical records in the league so far, winning seven and drawing two of their nine matches, with St Ives topping the table due to their superior points difference.
The Roosters won the first meeting 20-14 in June and manager Paul Ashbridge is expecting a similarly tight encounter in the return fixture.
He told The Hunts Post: “It should be an interesting game, there’s not a great deal between the two sides.
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“We have got to contain their main ball players and if we do that we should be OK.
“They have got quite a simple game plan but it’s effective. It’s going to come down to which team wants it more on the day.”
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Due to an away defeat to Bedford Tigers at the weekend, which could have seen Roosters secure top spot, Ashbridge feels he will have little motivating to do for the game against the Crusaders.
He said: “The guys seem to have got their own motivation for the match on Saturday.
“We should have beaten Kings Lynn and Bedford and then Saturday wouldn’t have mattered, but being top for the whole season the guys don’t want to drop into second place on the last day.”
Although the Roosters have had some players unavailable for parts of the season with injuries, the regular players in the team are up for the fight.
“The guys who play most weeks are quite confident,” said Ashbridge. “It will be quite a good game to play in.”
After the weekend the top four teams from the East Rugby League Premier enter into the play-offs which sees the top two sides guaranteed home ties against the teams in third and fourth, with the winners of those games progressing to the final on Saturday, August 16.