WHARFEDALE may have officially made their worst start to a season in the 30-plus years of league rugby, but head coach James Doherty is still backing them to beat the drop.

The Greens, who are bottom of National League Two North, were beaten 48-16 at Sale last Saturday – their 11th defeat in 12 matches.

This statistic is even starker than in 2015-16 – the season they were relegated from National League One – and 2016-17, when they secured their fourth-tier status with a losing bonus point at Chester in the 28th round out of 30.

In both of those seasons, Wharfedale had won two of their opening 12.

Doherty knows that his club may have to embark on a run that was similar to their 2011-12 campaign when they won five straight matches and 11 of their last 18 to finish tenth in National League One.

However, he feels that they are capable of proving the doubters wrong.

The Greens have lost seven matches since their only victory of the season (17-10 at Sheffield) on September 30, and Doherty said of Saturday's match at home to sixth-placed South Leicester: "We are incredibly desperate to win, and we need to use that as a positive.

"I don't want the players to be fearful of winning. We must use that desperation like a rabid dog and fight for everything.

"I don't want us to roll over and die. People have been writing us off but we have the character to get out of this, and I would back us to get out of it."

Doherty, who feels that newcomer Kieran Frost is setting the right example in terms of character, and is being backed up by fellow forwards Richard Rhodes and Adam Howard, added: "There is nothing wrong with our preparation or our warm-up but we need to play for more than patches in games.

"We have been concentrating 70-30 on defence in training, and we are missing some first-up tackles.

"We sometimes look like we are battering against a brick wall but we need to maybe play for field position more from midfield, and we hae the players to do that in Phil Woodhead, Tom Barrett and Tom Davidson.

"However, Sale are a very good side, as they proved by winning at Stourbridge a few weeks ago.

"They are fifth in the table at the moment, but are playing better than that and it wouldn't surprise me if they weren't right in the mix at the end of the season."

The return of Rob Baldwin is also having a positive influence on the Greens.

Doherty said: "Rob is doing the little things like hanging up the shirts and filling the water bottles to make us a bit more professional, but he is doing so much more than that.

"He offers a different voice, offers advice, acts as a sounding board for me and helps the players mentally and psychologically."