RUGBY: St Andrews warm up with 20 tries in three pre-season games

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Training concentrating on fitness and handling skills to earn try-bonus points

Saints completed their series of pre-season practice games with a convincing 42–19 win over a big, physical Daventry side, having already crushed Coventrians in a ten-try bonanza and lost narrowly, 22–25 at Northampton Casuals.

Training has concentrated on higher fitness levels and improved handling skills needed to play the fast fluid rugby to which the club is committed.

A tally of 20 tries in the three games suggests that the hard work has paid dividends. The failure to gain try-bonuses last season effectively cost Saints three league places and that problem needed to be addressed.

The mobility and ball handling of the forwards has been particularly impressive, providing quick possession at the breakdown and allowing the backs to work through their impressive repertoire of moves.

All the new recruits have first team potential and there is the additional bonus of the return of a raft of players who were sidelined for most or all of last year. New skipper Grant Taylor is going to be faced with difficult selection decisions with fierce competition expected in a number of key positions.

The league season starts with a difficult trip to Ledbury, who have twice narrowly missed out on promotion since their promotion to West Midlands 3. It was Saints’ narrow victory there in the last game of the season that blew away any remaining hope of a top two place, so the Hereford side will not lack motivation.

Saints will be equally determined to avoid the disastrous start to their campaign when they lost the first six games but then did remarkably well to finish in the top half of the table, beating all but one of the sides above them.

There will be a second trip to Herefordshire to play promoted Bromyard, which will be a first ever fixture between the teams. Saints will also renew league rivalries with Alcester and Dunlop after a number of years.

The Colts first ever outing in the Warwickshire colts league will be this Saturday, when they play Leamington at John Tomalin Way. The squad will comprise a core of last year’s ‘junior’ colts, supplemented by some new recruits and younger players moving up from last year’s talented U16 team. There have been good numbers at training and the youngsters are looking forward to this new challenge.