Newton Abbot victory was turning point for Old Pats
GRITTY Newton Abbot victory turned Old Patesians' season – and now their Centenary celebrations can inspire a landmark double over powerful Redingensians, believes Thinus Delport.
Head coach Delport reckons the Everest Road buzz around the upcoming summer tour to America has helped captivate collective minds.
And now he has told his Old Pats players to kick-start a winning run that can send them off on tour in style come the end of the campaign.
Old Pats dispatched Oxford Harlequins at home on Saturday, full-back George Hughes' hat-trick leading the 42-14 charge.
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Former Gloucester and Worcester full-back Delport believes Pats are now finding top form – and can sneak a second league victory over the Reading men tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
Pats edged out Redingensians 32-25 at Everest Road on Saturday, November 3.
Delport's men have endured injury and form troubles this term, but are starting to solve both.
Pats tiptoed past Newton Abbot 25-20 down in Devon on Saturday, February 9.
Ex-Springbok Delport thinks that result has sparked his side into life.
He explained: "We've leapfrogged Barnstaple which is great, and it's been going well.
"We're really positive about the run to the end of the year now.
"Ever since that Newton Abbot win we've been in good form.
"Lock James Stickland has come back and he's made a difference, Sticky has been a big part of the team going forward.
"And we've built around it.
"A couple of guys have been coming back from injury and that's boosted things.
"The Centenary brings a bit of togetherness for the club, and the end-of-year tour too.
"We've got various fund-raising going on, that brings a bit of excitement and adds to the team bonding.
"And that's vital.
"That's one of the main reasons why the season has been turning, because the boys have really forged new levels of togetherness as a team.
"And that really helps in these close games, because the boys are working well for each other.
"We've seen some great try-saving tackles when the boys are pulling out all the stops for each other.
"And it's a great atmosphere right now.
"The boys have started paying their dues for the tour, they are starting to get really excited about all of that now.
"The focus is squarely on the league and getting the results we need, but there's great excitement.
"I would love to go on the tour but I think I'll have some other work commitments.
"But the guys have been trying to coax me into going.
"We'll see – it's still on the discussion table, so we'll see what happens next."
Flanker Leroy Hughes could miss out through injury, stretching Pats' back-row resources with Paul Scott and Josh Stevens both banned, while wing Callum Kerr might not be available either.
Delport rates Redingensians as one of the league's most potent outfits – so admits Pats would cherish securing a double with victory tomorrow.
"They performed really well last year, they had a bit of a slow start this time around but they are getting back to that top four or five slot in the league now.
"It's always going to be tough against them.
"We turned them over at Everest Road and they will be out for revenge.
"But the guys have such confidence from winning momentum, and we'll be approaching the game as a real chance to get the double over them.
"We're playing for team pride, looking to build on the last few weeks.
"We've had some good results away and this is a great opportunity for the guys to take a big scalp off one of the top teams.
"That's always a big achievement if you can pull it off.
"It would be great to steal the bragging rights of a double here."