RUGBY: Rugby St Andrews

Action from Saints v Southam in November   (picture by Mike Baker)
Action from Saints v Southam in November (picture by Mike Baker)
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The season so far -

Saints are looking forward to the second half of the season with increased confidence and self belief with seven wins from the last eight games, keeping them in touch with the main promotion contenders and securing a place in the quarter-finals of the RFU Midlands Senior Vase competition.

This has been achieved despite retirement, injury and unavailability problems which have stretched resources to their limit. To date 38 players have pulled on a first team shirt, 20 forwards and 18 backs, but Saints have still managed to run up almost 350 points, with 43 tries, in 15 games, illustrating their intent to play good open rugby.

The pack may lack the set piece physicality and strength of recent years but compensates for this with the extra mobility needed for a more fluid style of play. The backs have endured weekly permutations in personnel and positions but have still produced 34 tries, mainly in the wide channels through their back three.

Saint’s reliance on the flow of talent from the Mini and Junior ranks is increasingly obvious with more than 90per cent of the players used so far coming through this section. The most recent of these, Scot Randle, Ben Nutt and teenager Tom Oglethorpe, more than hold their own at senior level. With good squads of under 14, 15 and 16 players and a growing Mini section that source of supply looks promising for the future.

In the meantime Saints will be concentrating on further developing the existing squad and eliminating some of the errors that proved costly in the earlier part of the season. Patience in attack has been improved but the regular concession of penalties has too frequently undermined good approach work and there is still a need for more care in finishing off when opportunities arise.

The immediate challenge is victory over Upton on Severn at John Tomalin Way tomorrow (Saturday 3rd) and progression to the semi final of the Senior Vase. Two difficult away matches follow against unpredictable Bedford Queens and consistent Vipers, who currently sit one place above Saints in a topsy turvey league that has already seen five different leaders and produces unexpected results every week.