Bristol Sonics will be looking to make home advantage count when they face local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors and Forest Bulldogs over the next seven days writes Matt Annis.
The Sonics, fresh from an impressive 32-24 away win at fellow title hopefuls Oxford Cavaliers, welcome old foes Gloucestershire Warriors to Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground on Saturday, 18th June (kick-off 2.30pm), before hosting West of England League newcomers Forest Bulldogs at the same venue on Wednesday 22nd June (kick-off 7.15pm). Entrance to both matches is free to spectators.
Since opening their campaign with a high-scoring 69-56 loss at U.S Portsmouth Navy Seahawks, the Sonics have notched up back-to-back wins against Bath & Wiltshire Romans and, last Saturday, Oxford Cavaliers. If the Sonics can make home advantage count against the Warriors and Bulldogs, they will be in a strong position as the League season reaches its’ half way point.
Bristol Sonics player/coach Dom Swann is keen that his players don’t get ahead of themselves, though. He said: “We’ll worry about the Forest Bulldogs game next week – for now, what is important is putting in a great performance against a very good Gloucestershire Warriors side. If we can do that, then the result will take care of itself. The way the League is structured this year, we cannot afford to drop points if we’re going to make it into the play-offs. It’s the same for the Warriors, and we know that they will be fired up to get a result at our place”.
Swann missed Saturday’s fixture at Oxford due to family commitments, but has been encouraged by reports of a much improved defensive performance from his side. He said: “In our first two League games we showed that we have the ability to rack up a lot of points, but we struggled to keep the opposition out. Rugby League games at this level are generally won by the team that defends its’ line the best. Oxford are a strong side, so to limit them to 24 points was hugely pleasing, especially since we conceded nearly 120 points in our first two matches. If we can defend as well as that against the Warriors, and the Bulldogs on Wednesday, we’ll give ourselves a great chance of picking up the points”.
Swann will return to the starting line-up on Saturday, possibly to begin a new half-back partnership with Saturday’s two-try hero, fellow player/coach Lawrence Roycroft. He’ll have to do without strong-running prop forward Byron Edwards, who has scored on each of his appearances for the Sonics this season, but could welcome back former Gloucestershire All Golds and Oxford RLFC forward Nathan Rainer following a head injury picked up in pre-season. Centre Mike Gaston returns to bolster the back-line, while Jack Farler could make his first appearance of the season. Forward Louis Mizen is likely to return after missing the Oxford game.
Bristol Sonics take on Gloucestershire Warriors at Dings Crusaders RFC, Landseer Avenue, Lockleaze, on Saturday 18th June, kick-off 2.30pm. Entry is free for spectators.