AHEAD of Saturday’s Welsh Derby away to South Wales Ironmen, Crusaders head coach Mike Grady is looking for big improvements from his side after they suffered a defeat to Coventry Bears last weekend.
The defeat to the Bears all but ended the Crusaders’ chance of a top two finish, but Grady insists that his squad can’t afford to take the final two games lightly: “The lads are now playing for their contracts next year, he said.
“Last weekend’s performance was totally unacceptable on a number of levels and we owe the fans a strong finish to the season.
“I can’t pin point one area that went wrong against Coventry – I think that it was our worst performance of the season and with just three games to go that shouldn’t have happened.
“The lads are as disappointed as I am and we’ll now look to put things right this weekend against South Wales.
“It’s a game that means a lot to the fans, staff and players of both clubs so we need to be on the right side of the result.
“Having coached South Wales before, I have been on both sides of the divide and am all too aware of the importance of winning the derby.
“The Crusaders haven’t lost a Welsh derby yet, and I don’t want to be the person in charge when they do.
“South Wales will up their game, but we have a point to prove after our poor performance last weekend.”
With a mid-season move to a new ground and 12 players signing on deadline day, Grady is expecting a tough challenge from a new-look South Wales side. He said: “South Wales will be a completely different side to the one that we faced earlier in the season, they’ve got a large number of players who have stepped up from the amateur game and they’re all very determined.
“We were taught a lesson last week about what happens if we turn up expecting to win and we can’t afford to do that ever again.
“No game is won before it’s kicked-off and in this league you’ll get a challenge whatever team you face.”
Grady added: “We owe the fans a much improved performance in the next two games and we want to build some momentum for next year so that we can push on.
“We’ll improve next season and have to be more consistent, we seem to have raised our game against teams in the top-half but haven’t performed against the teams below and around us.
“It’s something for us to work on in pre-season but for now we’ll focus on these final two games and getting two wins from them.”