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In-form Newmarket eyeing up second spot

RETURN TO ACTION: Dan Johnson (carrying ball) is back in contention for Newmarket
RETURN TO ACTION: Dan Johnson (carrying ball) is back in contention for Newmarket

An impending reshuffle of the rugby pyramid is set to see Newmarket promoted to level eight — but the club are determined to move up in style.

The Rugby Football Union have now announced that due to the relocation of certain sides in Essex to new leagues, the top six (instead of one) of this season’s Eastern Counties Greene King League Division One will be guaranteed elevation into the London League for 2017/18.

As it stands, Newmarket are fourth with a 19-point gap to Thurston in seventh place.

However, having recorded four wins on the bounce heading into Saturday’s trip to Crusaders in third (3pm), director of rugby Raymond Richardson has insisted the club has eyes on second place.

With five matches left to play, just five points separates Newmarket from Wymondham, whom they beat last time out and currently occupy the runners-up spot.

“At the start of the season, the target was to finish in the top five and as long as we do that, it will be job done,” he said.

“When you consider we have had to rebuild the senior team, meeting that target would be a great achievement.

“Thetford are running away with the league, but finishing second would be absolutely amazing and it is an achievable goal now as well.

“Momentum is key and we have generated plenty in recent weeks.

“Confidence is high and the players have really started to gel.

“After Crusaders we face teams in the bottom half until the end of the season and we will be looking to take maximum points.”

When Newmarket hosted Crusaders in early November, the Norfolk side edged a low-scoring affair 8-7.

On this occasion, though, Richardson is expecting a more entertaining encounter, with his men coming out on top.

“We were unlucky to lose last time. The weather and the referee — for both teams — did not help matters,” he added.

“We are not a big team. When you look at our pack up against the opposition, we are normally smaller.

“It means we have to find another way and pride ourselves on being fitter, sharper and more intelligent.

“With the way we are playing, hopefully that rises to the surface on Saturday and if it does, we are capable of getting a positive result.”

Simon Guenigault, Dan Johnson and Spencer Pettitt will all return to the squad for the clash at Little Melton.

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