BOURNEMOUTH travel to Barnes on Saturday (3pm) for a clash that could be pivotal in determining the fate of both clubs at the end of the season, writes Adam Hunter.

Lions returned to the bottom of the National Two South table with defeat at home to Esher last weekend and this weekend’s hosts sit four points ahead in 14th place.

And coach Jon Sanchez sees this as a big opportunity to make up ground.

“Everyone is saying it is a must-win game,” he said.

“We are in a mini-league at the bottom at the moment, there are five teams and Barnes are one of them. We need to start picking up points against these teams, then we will be safe.”

The other early strugglers, Westcliff and Worthing, have tough fixtures themselves. The former host third-placed Henley whilst the latter travel to Clifton, who sit fifth. And Sanchez knows that Barnes are vulnerable, with the Londoners having conceded around 30 points per game up to this weekend.

“We are focusing on our attack this week," he said.

"We have a new shape to the back line that we have been working hard on in training. The boys have responded really well to it.”

And the coaches are gradually bringing together their ideas and defining how the team will play.

Sanchez added: “We have done some play books and the players are really excited about the challenge of our new set piece and how we are going to look to attack. We want to be ruthless in everything we do.”

The foundations of the scrum and line-out will be critical on Saturday, as unforced errors have cost his side several times already this season.

In team news, veteran scrum-half Sam Hardcastle is unavailable so youngster Liam Driscoll, who starred against Henley, comes in. Toby Kenneally moves from blind-side flanker to the second-row, giving former National Two South player of the week Conrad Carkeet another opportunity to impress. Sam Knott drops to the bench.

Sanchez said: “We have got a pack there that can get us around the park and make it really difficult for Barnes."