Newmarket Rugby Club to start Greene King IPA Eastern Counties 1 Shield campaign at Hadleigh on Saturday
After finishing top of the Eastern Counties League Greene King 1 West, Newmarket Rugby Club’s focus has now switched to the second half of the season.
Their lofty finish to the first phase of the campaign means the Scaltback side have found themselves placed in the Greene King IPA Eastern Counties 1 Shield – a league made up of the top two teams from all four points of the compass.
And having beaten West runners-up Cottenham twice, Newmarket have carried over those points into the next phase, leaving them second in the table and just a point behind Saturday’s hosts Hadleigh (2pm).
To have any chance of securing promotion Newmarket will need to be at the summit once again come the term’s conclusion on April 13, although head coach Martyn Wall has stressed that is not necessarily the club’s major aim.
“We carry the points over and so we are already in second place, which is a positive start,” he said. “It will be good to get the lads back together on Saturday and begin our campaign again.
“Just like with the first phase, our aim is to win every game we play and finish in the top two.
“Only the champions will get promoted and while it would be a great achievement, we are in transition as a club and it would not be the worse thing if we stayed at this level for another year. We want to bleed in talented youngsters and give them the experience of this level of rugby.”
Wall is also well aware the challenge ahead will be a much sterner one for his men.
During the first phase they lost just twice, with six of their victories being by a margin of more than 20 points – one being 103-8 against Ely II in early November.
Beccles, Norwich Union and Colchester III will also be direct opponents over the coming weeks, and Wall is looking forward to seeing how Newmarket match up.
“These are the top teams from each of the championships so we should all be of a similar standard,” he added.
“It will be a good benchmark to see exactly how good we are compared to the others in the division. For us it is about keeping that fighting spirit we have done so far.
“There is no added pressure on the players. We just want them to turn up and play. Their level of performance has been great so far and it is nice to see them execute the plans we put into place – long may it continue.”
Openside flanker Matthew Dyer is a long-term injury absentee and is set to sit out the remaining fixtures.