SPALDING RFC v ILKESTON (Saturday, 3pm): Spalding RFC begin their Midlands One East League campaign with the same fixture which they finished the last.
The match at home to Ilkeston back in April was a memorable one for Town as the 13-12 victory – against the odds – secured their league status.
But if Town have designs on repeating that feat they must do so without captain Harry Sharman.
He was injured in last weekend’s 46-38 NLD Shield win at Lincoln and is definitely out this weekend. It’s hoped it will only be one match he misses.
But Town coach Niall Thomson believes the squad is looking sharp and there is more than enough cover to limit the loss of the inspirational skipper,
He said: “Hamish Munro (physio) has done a terrific job of getting the squad in good shape.
“It perhaps helps that we go into the season against a known quantity in Ilkeston.”
Thomson insists the primary aim for the season is nothing more than extending their stay in the league.
He added: “Some will say that we’re punching above our weight – and they might well be right – but having experienced the rugby in this division for the past two seasons we want it to continue.”
Number eight Harry Brown returns to the squad this weekend after shaking off a hamstring problem. Also figuring will be centre Cameron Lithgow and winger Harry Harrison.
They were playing under-17 rugby last seasonand Thomson is confident they are ready for the step up.
He said: “Harry has electric pace and that is something you cannot coach someone. He has very good hands and is aggressive in defence.
“He and Cameron have figured in the two games we’ve had so far and we hope these two will now form a part of our first team for many years to come.”
Town will aim to bring more consistency to their results this season – last time they beat nearly all the top eight sides but lost to bottom side Coalville.
This weekend’s opener at the Memorial Field is followed by away fixtures at Newark and Market Rasen.