Skipper Lockwood issues rallying cry to relegation-threatened Swaffham
- Credit: IAN BURT
Swaffham captain Marc Lockwood is begging his team-mates to have faith in their own ability as they look to preserve their Eastern Counties' top-flight status.
The North Pickenham Road club enjoyed their loftiest position in the rugby pyramid when last term's debut Division One campaign culminated in a fourth-placed finish. But it's been much more difficult this time around with the Norfolk outfit being dragged into a serious relegation battle.
They get their 2015 programme underway at Mersea Island, ninth, and Lockwood admits a morale-boosting win would be the ideal new-year lift.
The skipper, whose men are 11th and eight points from safety, said: 'There is belief as individuals as we've got some very talented players. But they haven't got belief in themselves right now where they can sustain their expectations of themselves for a full game.
'Mersea's our longest journey of the season and when you get there you're stiff and you have to motivate yourself all over again. So while a win would be ideal, a good performance in a narrow defeat would perhaps be enough to improve confidence.
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'That said, we did that against Wymondham recently and I thought that would give us a lift but it didn't. However, the players are good enough – we're playing well in patches and things are not as bad as they look on paper – we just need to have belief as a unit.'
Swaffham have 10 matches left to drag their way out of trouble and avoid a return to the league they were promoted out of in 2013. Thurston are the side directly above them while Mersea, notoriously strong at home, are just two points further ahead.
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'I've had times where I've questioned my own leadership, it's been a tough season,' added Lockwood.
'But it's not all down to me. The players have to look at themselves. We're executing drills in training and we need to keep doing that on the pitch and not let our heads drop if we concede an early score.
'As a collective we need to do better but as individuals we need to take responsibility and help lift this club back up towards where we were last season and stay in this division.
Same-league Wisbech, sixth, have a chance to prove their recent improvement is more than a phase when they welcome table-topping Southwold.
In higher-level London Three North-East, third-placed West Norfolk visit Beccles, ninth.