Bedford Blues will be hoping to return to winning ways when they take on Doncaster Knights at Castle Park on Friday night, writes Michael Hann.
After suffering a narrow defeat to Championship leaders Newcastle last time out director of rugby Mike Rayer is eager for his side to put some points on the board.
However, the autumn internationals have had an effect on the Blues squad with captain James Pritchard being called up to play for Canada.
Luke Baldwin and Ben Ransom have returned to Saracens as a number of their players are on England duty, while injury means that winger James Stephenson again misses out.
On his team selection Rayer said: “Darryl Veenendaal will come in as Luke Baldwin and Ben Ransom are away with Saracens.
“We’re looking at Mark Atkinson at full-back and Mark Kohler will come in.
“Ricky Reeves is due a start as is Dan Seal who has been on the bench more times than anyone this year.
“In the back row we will play Darren Fox, because Sacha (Harding) has gone really hard over the last few weeks.”
Friday night’s opposition Doncaster have struggled so far this season and are languishing at the bottom of the table.
Nevertheless, Rayer is expecting a tough encounter with the Yorkshire side.
“It is always a tough place to go. We know each other fairly well and we have been at loggerheads with them for a while in this division,” he continued.
“They will be desperate to get the points so they can start climbing up the table and we have got to take that on board.”
Consecutive defeats have seen Bedford slip down to third in the Championship and the director of rugby is looking to bring that run to an end.
“We hate losing and the quicker we get back on track the better,” said Rayer.
“Just because we had a good start it doesn’t give you a divine right to go on and beat everybody.
“We knew this period was going to be tough and there are some more tough games beyond this.
“We want to get the points to get in the top four just like everybody else and see where that takes us.
“But no game is any more important than another and that’s the mindset we have to have.”
Bedford came close to upsetting Newcastle on Saturday and Rayer says his side gave everything to win.
“We gave our all to the cause and it is a case of what if,” he added.
“On that day we had a chance, they were missing a couple of key players especially in the second row.
“That was our best shot of doing it and unfortunately it has slipped through our hands.”