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SONICS PRIMED FOR PREMIER PLAY-OFFS PRESSURE

Bristol Sonics travel to Northampton Demons on Saturday as their quest to secure a second successive Cooperative Rugby League Conference Midlands Premier Grand Final spot gathers momentum.Having dominated the RLC Midlands West Qualifying league, the Sonics now play home-and-away fixtures against the East Midlands’ finest, Northampton Demons and Leciester Storm, with a place in the Cooperative Rugby League Conference Midlands Premier Grand Final at stake.First up for the in-form Sonics is a trip to face Northampton Demons, the only team to have taken points off them this season. When the teams clashed earlier in the season, the Demons produced an impressive first half performance before holding off a thrilling Sonics second half comeback to win 32-30.Northampton lost their unbeaten record on Saturday at the hands of East Midlands rivals Leicester Storm, while the Sonics enjoyed a weekend off to prepare for the all-important play-offs.Sonics Director of Coaching Karl Fearnley is likely to have a full squad to choose from, with only experienced prop Wes Rodgers missing from his first choice 13. With scrum half Tom James also away, Fearnley must choose between experienced utility player Joel Keen and recent second team star James Gross to partner skipper Dom Swann in the halves. Fearnley may also give a first team debut to impressive second team forwards Ryan Hall and Matt Douglas.Fearnley said: ‘We’re now getting in to the business end of the season and there’s no room for mistakes. Northampton and Leicester are both superb teams and if we’re going to keep alive our dreams of silverware we need to win all four games. We’re capable of doing that, but we need to find our best form of the season and fast. ‘Saturday’s match against Northampton will be a tough assignment, but it’s one we’ve been looking forward to for the last month. As far as I’m concerned, the season starts here.’Following Saturday’s match at Northampton, the Sonics will then play back-to-back home fixtures at Aretians RFC. First they take on Leicester (23rdJuly) before hosting Northampton (30thJuly). They finish their Midlands Premier play-off campaign with a trip to Leciester on August 6.The Cooperative Rugby League Conference Midlands Premier Grand Final takes place on August 13.

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