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RUGBY UNION: New-look Alchester confident of improvement
10:00am Friday 13th September 2013 in Sport
With a new coaching team at the helm, Alchester will look to improve on last year’s eighth-place finish when they start their Southern Counties North season tomorrow.
Former Bicester flanker Gary Few begins his tenure as head coach with a home Oxfordshire derby against Wallingford.
Few is assisted by ex-Chinnor captain Matt Hutchings.
Wallingford finished tenth last campaign, so need to improve if they are to avoid another relegation battle.
Banbury Bulls are targeting the top five in Midlands 2 West South after finishing last season with a flourish.
Bulls, who visit Stourbridge Lions in tomorrow’s opener, got off to a poor start in 2012-13 and looked early relegation candidates.
However, they picked up well in the final third to finish 18 points clear of the drop zone in ninth place. Scrum half Ed Phillips continues as captain, with James Kerr and Ian Heywood as coaches.
Mid-table respectability is the aim for Littlemore, who begin their BB&O Premier Division season at home to Tadley.
Littlemore have a new captain in Darren Warne, while Eugene Gratwohl joins the coaching team of Carl Wright and Kevin Jones.
Props Terry Eltham and Tyson Blackstock, fly half Lee Gillett, centre Dean Andrews and wing Darren Andrews all return after a year out.
But prop Daniel Greaney and wing Joe Ulett are out for the season after suffering broken legs in Littlemore’s first pre-season friendly.
Harwell hope to back challenging at the top of the BB&O Championship table after last season’s relegation.
They open their campaign at home to Faringdon, with Andy Lee as captain and Luke Blewett as head coach.
“We will be much more at home back in the BBO Championship,” said press officer Kevin Lewis.
“But we cannot promise the same all-conquering season of two years ago, having lost some of the strike power.
“We do, however, hope to be challenging for the top.”
Faringdon have Mark Viner and Bradford Peaston as their new captain and vice captain.
Jason Morbey continues at head coach, while the club have moved to Folly Sports Park, off Stanford Road.
Spokesman Jon Woodward said: “A respectable target of mid-table would be a great achievement for what is a fairly new club to the league from a comparatively small town.”
Didcot, who host Kingsclere, have a new captain in Sam Lacy and a new head coach in Dave Witts.
They have also entered a second team into the Thames Valley Invitational League.
Secretary Paul Costello said: “We want to build on last season’s fourth place and are looking for promotion.”
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