Leeds Carnegie head into their British and Irish Cup rematch against Aberavon as clear favourites – but will not be taking any chances against opponents handed a serious midweek hammering by Pool 5 leaders Bristol.
James Lowes’ team returned from South Wales last Saturday with a relatively comfortable 41-22 victory against their hosts.
But Aberavon – who won their opening game against pool whipping boys Gala back in October – were given a resounding thumping on Tuesday night, going down 78-0 to the west country club.
To assume, however, that the Welsh club may be mentally shot as a result of their crashing defeat, would be a grave error, warned Carnegie forwards coach Tommy McGee.
“You might think that their confidence has taken a battering in the middle of the week (with that loss to Bristol), but that then brings you on to one of the toughest things in sport, regarding the psychology of the game,” said McGee.
“If we go into this game in any shape or form with the approach that we think it is going to be easy then we’re in trouble – but we are not going to allow that to happen.”
McGee conceded that Aberavon had tested them at times in South Wales, forcing the West Yorkshire club – currently enjoying a four-match unbeaten run – to make some minor adjustments for the swift rematch, which will be staged at Hull Ionians’ Brantingham Park ground tomorrow.
“There is no doubt that they tested us last week, they are a good team,” added McGee.
“They play with a lot of width and try to play a faster kind of game, which is going to be pretty tough to defend for anybody. But having seen them once up close now, we’ve made some adjustments for this week and, hopefully, we can get the win again and keep up this momentum.”
A number of changes will be made to the Leeds line-up with hooker Scott Freer and lock Mike Myerscough, who is hoping to put an injury-ravaged start to the season firmly behind him.
“I’m delighted to be back in the mix,” said Myerscough.
“Having Scott Freer, myself and Richard Beck all returning from injury adds to the mix and gives us more strength in depth.
“We have made some good progress from last week and it is important for us to keep up the winning momentum.
“The boys have been doing extremely well all season.”
OTLEY will look to bounce back from their heavy home defeat to second-placed Darlington Mowden Park when they travel to fellow strugglers Hull in National Two North.
The hosts – currently lying third-bottom – will themselves be looking for a more positive weekend after being thumped 54-0 on the road by third-placed Stourbridge.
Harrogate, whose 31-13 defeat at Chester last week extended their losing streak to three straight league losses, host Leicester Lions, who make their trip north on the back of a 55-25 win over fourth-bottom Bromsgrove.
Morley will fancy their chances of extending their three-game winning streak in National Three (North) when they travel to Bradford and Bingley, who are without a win in five after a resounding 44-12 defeat at top-of-the-table Huddersfield last week.
Sandal can increase the pressure further on fourth-placed Stockport, who they edged out 17-16 last week, when they visit third-bottom Firwood Waterloo.