UNDERBANK Rangers head to Hemel Stags tomorrow confident of making a strong start to their new National Conference League Division III campaign – despite being handed the toughest opener.
Bank boast a 100 per cent record over the Stags, but with the Southern-based club preparing to enter Championship I next year they have notably strengthened their squad.
The Stags have scored over 50 points in each of their three trial games and match fitness could prove key as the men from Holmfirth will be taking to the field for the first time since Carnegie Challenge Cup defeat back in March.
Coach Richard Knight is aware of the difficult task at hand but remains quietly confident his side can kick off the 2012 season with a win.
“They have recruited substantially as they prepare for Championship I next year and we couldn’t ask for a tougher start,” said Knight.
“But I’m not a coach that worries too much about the opposition. This game is about trialling our new combinations and styles of play.
“As long as we do the right things, play at our usual high standard and stick to the game plan then there’s no reason why we can’t come away with the victory.
Bank recently enjoyed their most successful Challenge Cup run and disposed of higher-league outfits on two occasions.
But having played no competitive matches for six weeks, Knight is wary how the lack of pre-season will affect his side.
“We’ve enjoyed a good Challenge Cup run and the new lads got a chance to settle in,” he added.
“But we haven’t had a strong pre-season and Hemel already have three games on us. Unfortunately we won’t know until tomorrow how that will affect us, but overall preparations have gone well and I’m remaining quietly confident.”
Bank will be missing their starting props as Dave Valentine remains two weeks off match fitness and Sam Dalby recovers from a broken jaw.
Knight will look for cover by adjusting his pack and feels it won’t prove a major issue as they look to take the spoils away from Hemel.
“Despite the losses of Dave and Sam we’re not that light in those positions for the weekend,” said Knight.
“It’s not a disaster and it’s nothing that shuffling the pack won’t solve.”