Bedford Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer, has warned his side not to get complacent as they prepare to take on Neath at Goldington Road on Saturday, writes Michael Hann.
After crushing the Welsh side 62-12 at The Gnoll last weekend, the Blues are well on their way to qualifying for the quarter-final stage of the British & Irish Cup.
Bedford will go into Saturday’s game as strong favourites, however Rayer is keeping his players grounded.
“We have spoken about that this week,” he said. “You can’t take anything for granted, you can’t just turn up and expect to perform.
“We have been pretty tough on the boys this week and they have had a couple of hard sessions.”
Rayer will look to make full use of his squad for the visit of Neath and young academy winger Aaron Morris could feature for the Blues.
“We will tinker a bit,” he continued. “Some boys have been chomping at the bit, Tom Armes for instance is itching to get out there.
“Brendan (Burke) had a week off so we’ll be looking to bring him back in,
“Then we’ll look at potentially giving a young lad, Aaron Morris, a go in the 22.
“I think it would be a great experience for him. He has been registered for a while with us and has shown great promise.
“He had a great game for the academy last week against Saracens and he has been training with us all season so I think he deserves an opportunity.”
“In the other key decision making areas, Darryl (Veenendaal) needs another start at nine, Scott (Spurling) needs another start at two, Joe Vandermolen will start at eight and we want to give Tom Armes a start at seven.
“We’ll give Jake (Sharp) a rest at 10 this week and give Vassy (Ian Vass) a go there so we can get Mark Atkinson and Brendan in the centre.”
Having won their first three B&I Cup matches convincingly Bedford look set to qualify for the knockout stages.
However they must carry on that fine form if they are to profit from a home quarter-final and any financial rewards.
Despite the money that could be on offer to the Blues, Rayer’s aim remains the same – winning the competition.
“I think if you take all the financial incentives out of the equation really,” he said.
“When I played rugby cup competitions were all we had to play for as there were no leagues around then, so I enjoy cup competitions.
“That is not to say we will take our foot off the gas in the Championship but it is a nice refreshing break to have.”
The Blues ran in nine tries, including a hat-trick from Josh Bassett, on their way to victory last Saturday.
And the Blues director of rugby was delighted with the manner in which they overcame the Welsh side.
“I think we were very, very clinical, that is the standout thing,” Rayer added.
“We scored four tries from the first phase of play which is highly unusual these days.
“But we understand where Neath are and they have a horrendous injury list but they put us under pressure for a good spell.
“Eventually they scored but at least we had made them work for 20 minutes to get their try and the response to that was pretty emphatic.”