Three-quarters of the way through their daunting start of four away fixtures in a row on their return to National Two South, Guernsey have already registered two important victories, but they are not about to rest on their laurels as they travel to Barnstaple this weekend.
‘We are pretty happy, but what came out during our review meeting on Tuesday is that our ambition is to get this win – we are now really focused on this game,’ said director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.
‘At the start of September, you would have taken two wins for the month, but now we have got two, we want more and it shows we are hungry for success.’
Once again Raiders have been forced into a couple of changes in their match-day squad.
Newcomer Charlie Davies will be unavailable for a couple of weeks due to long-held family commitments while Dan Morgan has not recovered from the rib injury he picked up in the win over Dings Crusaders last weekend.
The absence of Davies means a return to the starting XV for Joe Andresen and there is also a place in the squad for forward Hugo Culverhouse.
‘Joe has been working really hard over the last couple of weeks. He has not got a huge amount of game time – 20 minutes at Rochford and around 15 at Dings – but we have been pleased with what he has produced on Tuesdays and Thursdays at training and we’re excited to give him a shot in the XV,’ Reynolds said.
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‘Hugo is only just back from injury and we will look to see how he goes for 20-30 minutes. He can play second row or back row and we may look to put him in at lock this weekend, but his versatility will be pretty handy.’
The trip to Barnstaple, which starts this evening with a flight to Bristol before staying overnight in a hotel before driving to the game tomorrow and then heading to Exeter to get a flight back on Sunday, is a new one for Raiders.
‘We have never been there before and I know some people think when you tend to go to a ground every year and know it well then it helps, but I don’t really agree with that – I love the new,’ said Reynolds.
‘It creates a bit more excitement and it looks like Barnstaple have got a great stand with good support.
‘The great thing is that we don’t have to rush off, so we can share a beer, have a chat and create some new friendships – after the game.’
As for the game itself, Raiders will be up against a side who won their previous home game this season convincing but suffered two heavy defeats on the road against two of the early title favourites in Clifton and Esher.
‘Like every team, I think Barnstaple are generally stronger at home and they had a good win against Westcliff there so this will be a tough ask,’ said the Guernsey coach.
‘We have been watching them for the last couple of weeks and they are probably a better version of Rochford – they have a very big pack, tend to play with a lot of width, have an astute 10 and a good attacking 13, so have a couple more cogs to their game.
‘Our game-plan will depend on the weather. If it does not rain we will keep the ball in the field and work their pack around the park as much as possible, but if it is not dry we will probably go into more of a kicking game and a big defensive display will be needed as well.
‘Off the back of two pretty good sets of game-plans well executed, hopefully we can produce again on Saturday.’
Steventon, Ceillam, Pinkney, Baird, Webb, Raymond, Dom Rice, Horrocks, Simmonds, Thomas, Roberts, Smith, M. Armstrong, A. Armstrong, Andresen. Replacements: Bellingham, Murdoch, Culverhouse, Dan Rice, Lee.