HADLEIGH Rugby Club coach Adam Miles believes his players are capable of a top half finish on their return to Greene King IPA Eastern Counties One this season.
The Layham Road outfit went back to utilising local talent to seal their first promotion in five years last term and have started their new campaign with one win and one defeat.
Following a 43-31 loss at Newmarket, relegated from London Three North East last year, Miles is confident they have nothing to fear after making the step up, with a narrow 34-33 win over Ely getting them off the mark the prevous week.
“I am looking to achieve a finish above half-way and I believe we have the players to do it after an influx from Wattisham and with the youngsters stepping up,” he said.
Scrum half Luvo Banks and hooker Scott Fitzpatrick are two of four players who have joined from the Royal Air Force station, though the latter is set to miss the next three month as he is away on exercise.
With a stronger second team pushing for first team places, Miles is happy they can more than hold their own, though has warned ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Southwold (3pm) they must tighten up at the back.
“At The moment we are putting points on the board but the defence is letting us down,” he said. “We cannot afford to concede that many tries at this level if you want to be finishing high up the table.”
Hadleigh had been 43-12 down at Newmarket with 20 minutes remaining after a bright start and are set to welcome back Dean Woodhouse from holiday at tight head prop as they host last year’s seventh-placed side.
<BOLD>Sudbury Rugby Club face Wanstead on Saturday at Whittome Field (3pm) looking to register their first win under new coach Graham Ricahrds after a 41-22 reverse at Upminster last weekend.
But there were enough signs from their last game for Richards to believe his young side are making progress as he looks to get his ideas taken on board.
“We were much improved and we have just got bullied by one or two of their more physical players,” he said. “We played some good rugby at times and we need to learn to control possession of the ball and once we do that we will be much better.”
Sudbury had levelled the scores to 22-22 after half-time with Richards left to bemoan gifting tries to their opponents, who then ran clear on the scoreboard.
Wanstead have won both their opening fixtures, including a 24-5 comprehensive victory over Canvey on Saturday, but Richards believes they are capable of halting that run.
He said: “We have the ability to upset the applecart, we just need to control possession and have more patience.
“Rather than trying to score straight away we need to build up the phases.”
Full-back Nick Robinson (work) is again absent, while his natural replacement Fraser Beckett is sidelined with glandular fever ahead of departing for university.
Meanwhile, former Sudbury player Sam Lockwood, who last played for the club three years ago, inspired a Leeds Carnegie side to beat Bristol 50-31 in the Championship on Sunday, picking up the man-of-the-match award.