Esher boss Mike Schmid has admitted this weekend’s visit of Molesey is do or die for his side’s Championship survival hopes.
The Molesey Road outfit crashed 28-17 in Birmingham last week as they made it three straight Pool C defeats, since finishing the regular season with a burst of three wins.
Esher will lose £313,000 in central funding from the RFU should they drop into National Division One and must win their final three relegation play-off games to stand a chance of surviving.
And Schmid was only too aware his side was drinking in the last chance saloon.
“We had to win three games from four matches before the weekend, so the job remains the same,” he said.
“It is the previous two defeats that hurt more than Saturday, because we had a chance to win them and we knew it was vital to win at least one of those games.
“It is do or die for us.
“We’ve shown we can beat anyone if we stick to our game plan and we have shown what happens when we come away from it.”
Esher will see their RFU funding cut from £320,000 to just £7,000 should they suffer the drop, which will inevitably mean the exit for top players such as centre Tom Cheeseman.
Schmid’s side have suffered from horrific injury problems this term, which has seen the retirement of club captain David Slemen.
But they are at near full strength for Saturday’s crunch clash, meaning staying up might be an easier job than having to earn promotion back to the second tier of English rugby next term.
“There are a lot of good teams down there and quite a few are spending a lot of money,” he added.
“Teams like Jersey, Ealing, Rosslyn Park, Fylde – with Jason Robinson and Brian Ashton in charge – and Macclesfield will make it very difficult to get straight back up.
“We need to win three games, but I would say doing that is going to be easier than going down to come up.”
One bright spark for Schmid has been the form of Mike MacFarlane and the Molesey Road chief hoped the former Loughborough University student would be fit for one more strong performance this weekend.
“Mike had to come off on Saturday, but we hope he is going to be fit,” said Schmid.
“He has come up through our junior section, gone away to university and come back a very strong and powerful runner for us.
“He is very important to our game. We use him a lot as a ball carrier and he has been exceptional at that in recent weeks.”