FIT-AGAIN vice-captain Stu Taylor insists Old Patesians must focus on killing the derby game against Old Centralians off early.
Frustrated by their 26-24 defeat to Worcester Wanderers before Christmas, the message to the players is simple – be clinical with your chances and reap the rewards.
However, injury to captain James Stickland comes as a blow to the ever-strengthening squad, but Taylor insists this will not deter Pats from ensuring they are on the right side of another narrow scoreline at Painswick Road (2.30pm).
Taylor hailed the skipper, saying: “He is a warhorse. He does the dirty work no one else wants to do in the pack.
“He is a massive figure in the side and not just leader of the pack, but also the whole team. We look to him for guidance, so losing him is a bit of a blow.”
Pats are no stranger to close margins and tight scorelines.
In the reverse fixture against Cents, Pats lost Taylor and Adam Seagar (shoulder) in the first half to injury, and allowed Cents to overturn a 17 point lead after the break.
But a last-gasp try from winger Tom Burrows ensured a relieved Old Pats snatched a 29-27 victory at the death.
Now Pats are relishing the chance to take on their derby rivals once again.
Taylor said: “We are feeling good, and are ready to take our opportunities when we get them.
“A derby match like this is always a challenge, so we are buoyant but also disciplined and focused. We won’t look back at the last game - we will prepare normally.
“We weren’t able to shut out the game against Worcester. We lacked nous in the latter stages and that was our downfall.
“We have taken a couple of players aside so we can get the message out to the whole team - we must focus on killing off the game early.”
Pats sit four from bottom in National Three and are enduring mixed fortunes, partly due to unavailability and injury, while Cents are bottom of the table after just two wins.
But the Everest Road outfit have welcomed key players back to their natural positions at the turn of the year, including centre Taylor after a lay-off with a dislocated collarbone.