Rosslyn Park face an uphill task to get back in the National League One promotion race, but head coach James Buckland is not ruling it out just yet.

Last weekend’s 13-0 defeat at Blaydon, coming on the back of a 32-10 reverse at home to Loughborough Students, has left Park fifth in the table, 13 points off leaders Hartpury College.

And it gets no easier at the Rock this weekend when Hartpury are the visitors and could open up an 18-point advantage.

However, Buckland insists his players will be up to the challenge.

“We know what Hartpury will be bringing, they have a big forward pack, a back three who are very dangerous back three if you gift them the ball loosely,” he said.

“Wayne Thompson has done a good job with the forward pack and they have some experienced lads who are spending a lot of time together – they are well organised and are very effective in what they do.

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“We need to make sure we put our performance. I cannot fault the players’ efforts, but perhaps we have been guilty of getting ourselves up for top of the table teams, and been caught out by teams lower down.”

He added: “I am not looking at the league table, we just have to win some games – we’re not even half way through the season yet.

“Everyone has proved that anyone is capable of beating anyone, we just need to make sure we keep going forward to meet the challenges that come.”

Buckland will be without Henry Robinson for the Hartpury clash after the full back dislocated his shoulder in the Blaydon defeat - capping a frustrating day in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Buckland said: “We went up there with the ambition to play, and we dominated possession.

“We worked our way up the pitch at times quite well, but the reality is we just didn’t convert the chances.

“We were on the back of a poor game against Loughborough Students, where we just could not look after the ball, so we went to Blaydon looking to look after the ball, but they defended exceptionally well.

“Once we got in their 22, we struggled to find a way over the line and at times it doesn’t matter how pretty you play, it’s about getting over the line.

“But credit to Blaydon – they kicked the ball a lot, pegged us back and scrummed very well and kept us out of the game.”

He added: “We need to get the winning habit back, but in terms of our attacking shape and being able to play rugby it was probably an improvement on recent weeks, we just did not get over the line. That may sound silly, but that’s the reality.”

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