NEWBURY BLUES kicked off their pre-season programme with a try-scoring work-out at National Three South West Newton Abbot on Saturday as the coaching staff set about searching through the squad options before the September 3 kick-off at Reading Abbey.
Blues lost the 3 x 35 minute match 47-40, but the performance pleased head coach Lee Goodall, as did the displays of a sprinkling of new faces and members of the second XV.
“We took 27 players and it was a bit mix and match,” he said. “But overall it was a successful day.
“The performance was very pleasing against a side that played typical west country rugby, and we identified some areas for improvement, but luckily not too many.”
The newcomers included former Sheffield Tigers back row Rory Jones, who slotted into all three roles with ease, while Rugby League convert and Oxford ‘Blue’ Chris Paister-Thorne made a scoring debut at centre and Goodall rated his display as “very promising.”
Newbury now have two games at Monks Lane on Saturday with a squad of 43 likely to feature, a second team against their Bracknell counterparts at 1pm and a first XV against ambitious Okehampton at 3pm.
The squad is likely to be trimmed down for the visit of Winchester on Wednesday, August 24 to Monks Lane in the last full warm-up before the start of the league programme 10 days later.