Stewarts & Lloyds coach Kev Manson insists the Midlands Two East (South) table doesn’t tell the full story.
The Corby side go into the home date with Market Harborough on Saturday in the bottom two following five defeats in their last six matches.
But with a bit more luck, Manson reckons his side would be at the other end of the table.
“The target at the start of the season was the top four or five and from what we’ve seen so far there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be up there if we were at full strength,” he said.
“There’s nothing for us to fear. We’re not fazed by playing any of the top sides.
“But we just haven’t been able to name a settled side.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries and as soon as someone’s come back from injury, someone else has been hurt.
“It’s been that sort of season and it’s been very frustrating.”
S&L face a battle to stay in the division, but with scrum-half Matt Fleming back in the side and Owen Davis returning to the second row, Manson is hopeful for the rest of the season.
Proof of how good S&L can be when they are at full strength came in their 46-7 demolition of relegation rivals Leicester Forest before the Christmas break.
Forest are currently one place above them in the table, but were overwhelmed at Occupation Road.
“That was the strongest side we’ve had out this season and it shows what we are capable of,” Manson continued.
“It was a proper performance.
“We really should have had 50 points that day and that performance should give the guys some confidence.
“We just need to get another win and that will give us some momentum and help push us up the table.
“The players just need to believe they can do it.
“When you’re playing well, you seem to get the bounce of the ball and when you’re struggling, it can seem the world is against you.
“But we don’t want to be thinking like that.
“We just need to cut out a few mistakes and start to close out games.”
The fixture with Market Harborough this weekend is a reminder of those failings.
In the reverse fixture in October, S&L were beaten 13-10 in the dying moments.
“They won the match with the last play of the game,” remembered Manson. “But we have to forget that and be positive.
“We’ve got a strong team out on Saturday and if we perform on the day, there’s no reason why we can’t go out there and win the match.”
Rushden & Higham were top dogs in the Midlands Three East (South) derby clash with Oundle.
After the hosts went in front through an early Chris Sheldon try, Rushden then ran in 29 unanswered points with Tom Spencer, Nathan Buckley (2), Duncan Green and Harvey Hilson all crossing to secure a bonus point before half-time.
Eddie King and Guy Kantorowich pulled it back by touching down after the break but Rushden were 32-15 victors.
Kettering’s mid-season slump continued as they were beaten 46-27 by fellow promotion hopefuls Old Northamptonians.
Having won 12 straight Midlands One East games at the start of the campaign, the Blues have now lost three of their last four.
They did collect a try bonus point thanks to the collective efforts of Josh Plowright, Damien Conyard, Joe Daniel and Josh Cox.
This weekend they will be eager to return to winning ways when they host Paviors.
Wellingborough gained revenge for a late loss against Dunstablians earlier in the season by giving them some of their own medicine.
Trailing 23-21 with only a couple of minutes remaining, Pete Vickers calming dropped a goal to put the visitors in front at the crucial time.
It completed a vital 24-23 success after Luke Gardiner had scored two tries and Vickers notched 14 points with the boot.
This week they take on Oakham looking to maintain pressure on table-toppers Old Scouts.
Corby manager Ricky Egan urged greater dedication from his team after an 84-0 loss to Thorney in Midlands Four East (South).
“You can’t rock up on a Saturday and expect to win, you have to earn it,” he said.
“I was chatting to the Thorney prop and he told me the difference between them now and last season wasn’t rocket science.
“There were 21 players at their training session on Thursday night.
“The 21 were not made up of second-team players and Colts – 18 of them were available and on the pitch.
“They have been like that since pre-season, so they all know the moves and all know whose doing what.
“This allows the coaches to do the game plays and preparation for every game.
“If only my guys could grasp this and made a commitment to take one night out of their week to put the work in.
“The results will come!”
RFU ENGLISH CLUBS CHAMPIONSHIP
Midlands One East: Bugbrooke v Syston, Derby v Belgrave, Huntingdon & District v Bedford Athletic, Ilkeston v Spalding, Kettering v Paviors, Mansfield v Old Northamptonians, Market Rasen & Louth v Newark.
Midlands Two East (South): Biggleswade v Lutterworth, Dunstablians v Leicester Forest, Olney v Oadby Wyggestonians, Peterborough v Northampton Old Scouts, Stewarts & Lloyds v Market Harborough, Wellingborough v Oakham.
Midlands Three East (South): Daventry v Northampton Casuals, Long Buckby v Northampton BBOB, Rushden & Higham v Queens, St Ives v Oundle, Stockwood Park v Northampton Mens Own, Vipers v Rugby St Andrews.
Midlands Four East (South): Bedford Swifts v Corby, Bourne v Brackley, Sileby Town v Old Newtonians, Thorney v Deepings.