RUGBY: Town ‘several weeks’ off their best

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Newark RFC 1st v Spalding RFC 1st (Saturday, 3pm): It could be weeks before Spalding RFC 1st team is at full strength and reaping the benefits.

Coach Niall Thomson says injuries, unavailability and the club’s determination to blood youngsters is bound to take its toll.

And he is warning the club’s very strong support base that they may not see the best from their team until late October.

Captain Harry Sharman’s injury is likely to keep him sidelined for a further two matches and Tom Duerden joined him on the treatment table this week with an ankle problem picked up in last weekend’s 45-8 home defeat by Ilkeston.

That squad was severely depleted but Thomson insists they still should have coped better.

He said: “We played poorly and we had a full and frank exchange afterwards to identify the issues.

“Fortunately, they knew the problems – communication and defence.

“So we had a very physical training session on Tuesday based on endurance and tackling.

“The players worked very hard and the side we put out this Saturday will be significantly stronger.

“However, I do believe it could be four to six weeks before we can put out the kind of squad we want and start seeing the results.

“We had a similar situation last season and came good after Christmas.”

Coming back into the squad will be back row Ed Duerden and scrum-half Rob Lucas.

Thomson said: “Newark spent last season in the league below us and had a very strong season, winning every match.

“They started this season with a very good win away at Kettering.

“Nonetheless, I firmly believe that if we perform well and take this week’s practice into the match, we can win it.”

Centre Cameron Lithgow could get the nod for his first start and fellow youngster Harry Harrison, who impressed on the wing last weekend, will play again.

They are the kind of players with which the club wants to move forward.

“The great thing is that we have good, young, local players coming through,” said Thomson. “We have to give them match time to get the necessary experience.”