TUG Wilson is expecting Witney’s title as the top Oxfordshire club in the sixth tier to come under threat.

The west Oxfordshire side travel to local rivals Banbury in their South West 1 East season opener on Saturday.

Witney finished fifth last year and as the county’s top side in the division for the third campaign in a row.

But there is more competition than ever this season as, following Bicester’s promotion, there are five Oxfordshire teams at the level.

Head coach Wilson, who has kept the majority of his squad together, said: “It’s going to be really difficult this year.

“It’s a strong league, quite a distance to travel, so if we come out as the top Oxfordshire club we have done really well.”

Matt Goode has challenged his Banbury side to improve on last season’s top-six finish and win the Oxfordshire Cup for a third successive year.

Bulls have made several changes ahead of their second campaign back at the level.

Centre Goode has taken over as head coach but will continue to play, replacing James Kerr, who remains in the backroom team.

Props Pete Boulton and Joe Winpenny have joined, as have backs George Grieve and Tommy Gray.

Goode said: “We would like to beat last year, whether that’s by one or two positions.

“We’re going to look at individual games, firstly Witney at home is going to be a big test.

“Hopefully we can retain the cup again as well.

“That would be a dream come true, but there are plenty of teams that are wanting to get it off us.”

Head coach Andy Boyle is being cautious when predicting how Oxford Harlequins will fare.

The Marston Ferry Road-based club survived relegation on the final day of last season.

Boyle wants to avoid a repeat of the first half of that campaign, which saw Quins suffer ten defeats in 13 games.

But he is cautious about setting targets for the season.

Boyle said: “I’m not really the type of person who is going to throw numbers out, partly because we are, I will openly admit, in a transitional phase.”

Boulton and Jack Robinson have left the club for Banbury and Henley respectively, but backs Martin Nutt and Ralph Jones return.

Boyle added: “We’ve lost two or three long-term senior players, but we’ve brought in quality as well.

“We will get that first win under our belt sooner rather than later.

“And come Christmas I’m feeling confident we will be in a position where we will feel proud of how far we have come in a year.”

Grove start their campaign with a home encounter against Swindon.

The south Oxfordshire club, in their second season under Neil Hunter as director of rugby, will hope to build on last year’s 11th-placed finish.

Bicester are set to break new ground when they play in the sixth tier for the first time.

The north Oxfordshire outfit, who won promotion via the Southern Counties play-offs, host Wimborne.