THERE is no doubting the fight to avoid relegation from National League Two North is approaching the critical stage for many of those involved.
However, David Doherty, the director of rugby at Harrogate and one of the main protagonists, maintains there is no panic among their ranks.
The North Yorkshire side host Caldy this afternoon knowing a win – as unlikely as it is against leaders who have lost just once in 26 league games this term – will do wonders for their hopes of survival.
Currently, Harrogate are in the relative safety of 13th spot – the three places below suffer the drop – but remain just two points above nearest rivals Scunthorpe, a side who gave themselves a lifeline with a remarkable 27-26 win over Wharfedale last time out.
Furthermore, Sheffield Tigers are only four points adrift of Doherty’s side, too, and similarly desperate to preserve their status after last year’s promotion.
That was illustrated by their own single point victory last week, a dramatic 34-33 success at Yorkshire rivals Otley who, despite being in tenth, on 50 points like Wharfedale, are still not mathematically safe themselves.
Doherty told The Yorkshire Post: “We know everyone is desperate and one point wins can suddenly change the complexion of the table.
“But there’s four games left and 20 points up for grabs.
“The big thing for me here is that we’ve got a healthy squad and that is so important at this stage of the season.
“There’s three players out for the season but aside from that we’re good and we have others now coming back from three to four week injuries,” added Doherty.
“We’re confident we can get the points we need and, importantly, it’s in our our own hands.
“At the start of the season we were zero wins from six games. If you’d have said then we’d be in this position now where we can take control of our own destiny then I’d have gladly accepted that.”
Harrogate lost 30-10 at Chester last week but Doherty insisted: “They’d won 15 of their last 16 games so that was always going to be tough.
“There’s a great unity about these boys though and we’ve trained well this week.
“We know it will be hard against the leaders but we’re ready for these last four games,” he added.
Tigers host Hinckley today while Wharfedale welcome Sedgley Park and Otley travel to Stourbridge.