RUGBY: Saints in Warwickshire Shield action

Saints in action against Pinley last week   Picture by David Leathley
Saints in action against Pinley last week Picture by David Leathley

First competitive game of season away to Spartans today (Sunday)

Under the supervision of coaches Craig Jones and Spencer Brown, Saints’ preparation for the new season has gone well, culminating in highly successful trial games against Stoke Old Boys and, more physically demanding Pinley, who play one league higher in West Midlands 2.

Saints no longer have the powerful pack of previous years and are developing a less structured style of play more suited to their more mobile forwards and speedy backs.

This tactic served them well in both games, running in five tries against Stoke and, more impressively, seven against Pinley for a 47-10 victory.

The backs ran in most of the tries with incisive running and sharp handling, but credit goes to the pack who more than held their own in the set pieces and won penalties and turnovers at the breakdown with good speed and technique against bigger opponents.

Several new recruits made promising contributions and will strengthen the squad during the season.

There was still some lingering evidence of last season’s problem of failing to capitalise on attacking pressure as good opportunities were wasted by poor passing, but overall the offloading, handling and decision making were much improved. Defence was also much tighter, conceding only a single try in each game.

These improvements will need to be carried forward into the more pressurised league and cup environment because Saints are facing a tough start to the season without a number of influential players due to work, holiday and wedding commitments.

The first competitive match will be away to Spartans for a Warwickshire Shield game on Sunday.

The hosts just missed out on promotion from West Midlands 2 and are the current title holders, so this will be a real test of Saints credentials.

This is followed on September 10 by the first ever fixture against Ledbury, who also narrowly missed out on promotion last season and will no doubt be serious contenders again this year.

Saints were unable to reach an agreement on an alternative date and will be missing a raft of players who are attending the wedding of the popular Grant Taylor.

Saints Colts, most of whom have graduated from last year’s under 16 squad, will have their first outing this Saturday when they host Old Coventrians in a trial match, kick off 3pm.

The following Saturday, September 10, there will be a Colts launch party, where the club’s plans for the season, including a new sponsored kit package, will be revealed.

Arrangements for a unique personal fitness, conditioning and rehabilitation deal with Peak Performance are already in place and the RFU’s David Lote will be supplementing the coaching team with fortnightly sessions.

New recruits or former Juniors aged 16 or 17 are welcome to attend either Saturday’s trial game or the launch party, or ring Mike Wallace for more details 07703 322187.