Oxford Cavaliers will go into their first game of the season this Saturday at Gloucestershire Warriors eager to overturn two defeats to the same opposition in 2011.
The Warriors, who went on to win last year's competition, are sure to provide the toughest of opening round tests for a rejuvenated Cavaliers side looking to start the season in strong form.
"It was tough on us last year. They're a good team, and if you don't show up with your best performance, they'll find you out”, says club captain John Connaughton. “We just have to do what we've been doing in training, work for each other in defence, and show some composure when we've got the ball.”
The Cavaliers, who could give full starts to a number of new players on Saturday, have been working hard, training twice a week to be in peak condition for what is sure to be a physical first game. And new head coach, Tevita Vaikona is convinced his team have it in them to beat the champions, away from home in game one. “The boys have put in a great deal of work in training, I really couldn’t be happier with them. But now the serious work starts, and we know we need a good performance Saturday. Hopefully everything we’ve done to prepare ourselves will stand us in good stead.”
Those preparations have involved intensive weekly fitness and skills sessions, both of which were thoroughly put to the test on Sunday as the Cavaliers took part in the South West Rugby League 9’s competition. Oxford made their mark, reaching the semi finals and chalking up convincing wins against both Devon Sharks and hosts Exeter Centurions.
Oxford Cavaliers complete their pre-season preparations Thursday, with a final training session at Oxford Rugby Club, North Hinksey, 7pm.
Our first home game of the new season is next weekend, Saturday 19 May, against Wiltshire Wyverns at Oxford Rugby Club, North Hinksey - Time: TBC