Chichester hope their first home game will spark their third season into National League into life this weekend.
The Blues host Shelford after starting their National three London south east campaign with two away games – and are hoping strong home support throughout the season can lift their bid for glory.
Although they have lost their two opening games the first was by the narrowest of margins, 18-17 at Westcombe Park, and the second was in Guernsey (27-7) where it is always tough to go early in the season.
Head coach Rob Lawrence belives there is plenty to be optimistic about at Oaklands Park ahead of a big season for the team.
“At Westcombe Park we led for more than an hour and it was a little frustrating to come away with only a losing bonus point. But Westcombe are a solid outfit who have been in the league a long time and can beat anyone.
“We have had a lot of new players coming into our team – some of them experienced, some of them not – and our feeling is that we have a strong squad and can feel positive about the season ahead.
We’re worth a look!Rob Lawrence
“We finally have some depth and the squad have been working hard, in pre-season and early-season. We’ve had really big turnouts at training and there’s competition for places.
“We have some very talented youngsters coming from the university and through our junior ranks – that section of the club is producing quality players who can perform at National League level, which is outstanding.
“What that shows is that we are club willing to give youngsters a chance. If you come through our age groups and show you are good enough, you can play for us in the National League. It’s an important part of the community club we are trying to build.”
Lawrence said it was too early to make predictions about how Chichester could fare in the strong 14-team league – they have ended in mid-table in each of their first two years at this level – but added: “I feel like this could be a good year.”
He has urged local sports fans to get along to Oaklands Park on Saturday – and for other home matches – to see for themselves the entertaining brand of rugby the team are aiming to play.
“Saturday is a first chance for people to stroll up to Oaklands and see – for free, remember – what we’re about,” Lawrence added.
“In week one at Westcombe Park the quality of our rugby was high and the error count was low for that stage of things – but now in week three, we would expect to be better. We’re worth a look!
“Home support can be massive for us this season. We had more losses at home than we wanted last season and we aim to avoid that happening this season. Strong vocal backing from our fans will be a big factor.
“We’re building something longer-lasting. There’s been a lot of hard work by players, coaches and others at the club to get us where we are now and that work needs to continue long-term.
“Where else in the area can you watch National League sport for free? We’ll aim to be playing fast, attractive, intelligent and dynamic rugby.
“We feel we’ve established ourselves at National League level and these are exciting times.”
Shelford have started with a 37-8 defeat at Guildford and 15-13 home win over Colchester, with Wimbledon and Guernsey the early pacesetters in the division.
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