With just two weeks of the National Two South campaign remaining, OEs need two bonus point victories to secure their place in the play-off against the runners-up in National Two North on May 6th.
They go into Saturday’s vital clash in a rich vein of form before the Easter break, running in 32 tries in four successive victories over Redingensians, Exmouth, Barnes and Bury St Edmunds.
In contrast, Cinderford have won just one of their last six games and went down to 21-13 to Barnstaple in their last outing a fortnight ago.
However, when the two sides met at College Meadow in December, the Foresters lost by just one point after a try with the last move of the match by OEs scrum-half Ollie Claxton. Elthamians coach Sam Howard admits his side can’t afford to get carried away and take risks early on in pursuit of the bonus point victory.
“The importance of getting the win is not lost on the players but we have to show Cinderford the respect they deserve,” he said.
“They played very well against us at ours and we basically stole the game with a try in the last minute. They are very physical up front and drew at Bishop’s Stortford which shows how good they can be on their day.
“To presume we have to go for the bonus point win from the first whistle against one of the toughest teams in the league is a recipe for disaster. We have to aim for the win first, that’s the most important thing.
"If we take risks early on and commit silly errors, we won't have any chance of winning the game. The way we play is with a high tempo anyway so not much changes in our approach to this game.”
Elthamians have hit their best form at exactly the right time ahead of their first ever visit to Cinderford, according to Howard, who insists last weekend’s Easter break will not halt the momentum the club have worked so hard to build in the last month.
“I think we’ve been exceptional in our last few performances,” he said. “I said a while ago we haven't put together a whole 80 minutes of our best rugby, but we've been close to that in our last three games. What has been sometimes overlooked because of our attacking play, is that our defence has been excellent. Against Bury it was exceptional and laid the foundations for the victory.
“The Easter break won’t have affected us either. We had a great session last week, and trained as well as we have all year this week. If we get enough quick ball and are as precise as we have been over the last few weeks then we have a good chance of getting the job done.”
Updated 07:33 - 24 Apr 2017 by Jon Edwards