BRETT Davey has targeted further improvement from his side this weekend – provided he can scramble together enough players to fill the teamsheet.
The Knights earned their first point in the play-off stage with their four try haul in the defeat at London Welsh after turning in a much improved performance.
And director of rugby Davey is hoping his side can build on that when they renew acquaintances with Welsh at Castle Park on Saturday.
But a deepening injury crisis had robbed the Knights of 11 senior players earlier this week with many facing a race against time to be fit for this weekend.
Davey said: “I’ve never known anything like the situation we’re in right now.
“They’re dropping like flies.
“It’s hard to take because I’ve always thought we’d be really competitive with our strongest side out but we haven’t had many opportunities to do that this season.
“At the start of the week we had 21 fit players in the entire club and it’s a day by day process to see if there’s any improvement.
“I do believe that if we can get 22 lads together at the weekend who are close to full fitness then we’ll be competitive.”
Toby Berridge and Stuart Corsar pulled out in the warm-up on Saturday with respective hamstring and knee injuries.
Chris Hallam has been ruled out of Saturday’s game after coming off at London Welsh with rib cartilage damage.
Andy Boyde pulled his hamstring in the game while Chris Planchant suffered a suspected broken hand.
Despite the growth of the injury list, Davey was pleased with the performance at Old Deer Park.
He said: “It was a defeat which is disappointing but the improvement was there.
“It was a really good team performance and a few of the lads staked their claim for a place this weekend.
“The biggest improvement was in the set-piece because in the previous two games it was frankly abysmal.
“We were good in the set-piece which meant we were good in the game and it was great to see.”
Davey admits it is now unlikely his side will advance from the group stages despite it still being mathematically possible.
But he is demanding that the Knights go out with a bang, starting on Saturday.
He said: “I think what the lads did last weekend showed what they really think of this club and how much it means to them.
“I want them to show that in the last three games and ensure we end the season on a high.
“It’s been a tough slog, particularly in the last couple of weeks so it’d be nice to finish on a positive.”
Talks are well under way at Castle Park over contracts for next season with several meetings already held with players.
Mike Whitehead became the first departure last week when he announced his retirement from the playing side of the game.