Bristol Sonics Director of Coaching Karl Fearnley has warned his players to expect a “backlash” from struggling Cooperative RLC Midlands Premier rivals Northampton Demons at Aretians on Saturday.A win for the Sonics can would guarantee them a second successive RLC Midlands Premier Grand Final appearance with a week of the regular season remaining, but Fearnley has urged his players not to get carried away. With Northampton needing a win to keep their now slim Grand Final hopes alive following defeats at the hands of the Sonics and Birmingham Bulldogs, the Sonics chief expects a tough encounter on Saturday.Fearnley said: “There’s no doubt that this could be our toughest game of the season yet. Northampton will still be smarting from the 58-12 hammering we gave them two weeks ago, and their narrow loss to Birmingham last week. They simply have to win to keep alive their chances. A desperate team is a dangerous team. Unless we’re at the top of our game we could come unstuck. We need to be ready for the backlash.”Northampton were near unbeatable in the first half of the season and are the only team to have beaten the Sonics so far this campaign, snatching a 32-30 victory at Aretians in June. While Bristol are in great form, few would bet against Northampton providing a stern test for Fearnley’s men on Saturday.Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann is aware of the threat hat the Demons pose: “Northampton are a very well drilled side with a good pack of forwards and a strong kicking game. We beat them by controlling our game, cutting down our errors and hitting them hard out wide. We’ll need to do that again, and defend as well as we did at their place a fortnight ago. We know a win will get us into the Grand Final, and that’s our aim. It won’t be easy, but the lads are up for it.”Fearnley is likely to stick with the majority of players who featured in last weekend’s impressive win over Leicester Storm, but could hand recalls to utility back Dan Evans and second row Joe Coghlan.

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