All Rhoads lead to success as Oli’s brace helps Blues to bonus point win over Salisbury
It was a memorable weekend for rugby fans in West Berkshire.
Former St Bart’s student Ollie Hassell-Collins made his Premiership debut for Leicester Tigers, local lad Will Joseph lined up for new side Harlequins, England booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals and Newbury Blues bounced back from a bruising defeat against Guildford with a bonus point 40-7 win over Salisbury.
Two tries from Oli Rhoads and scores from Dan Thorne, Jamie Futcher, Harry Waye-Branch and Alex Du Sautoy, as well as 10 points from the boot of skipper Thorne, helped Blues to a comfortable victory in Wiltshire.
And head coach James McAvoy was impressed with how his side, who are fifth in the Regional 2 South Central table, stood up to the physical test posed by Salisbury.
“It was an important result for us. We were coming off the back of a disappointing result, and we’ve got some of the best sides in the league in the next block of games, so we were really pleased,” he said.
“We had some pretty harsh words with ourselves after the Guildford game. After Farnham, we addressed some defensive structural issues and (against Guildford) we were fine in terms of how we set up but we lost our one-on-one battles.
“It was a difficult weekend, because Blues and Stags both suffered quite heavy losses.
“We made a few adaptations to the level of contact in training and exposure to one-on-one tackling, we wanted to be more intense in that regard.
“That’s the beauty of coming up against good teams, we felt like we were really able to learn from it.
“We knew that Salisbury, who are an up front physical team, would be a good test of what we’d worked on. And I was really pleased with how we came through it.”
On Saturday, Blues will welcome unbeaten London Irish Wild Geese to Monks Lane – and McAvoy feels the tough test will provide his side with an indication of where they will end up this season.
He said: “We’ve got four massive games coming up, three of them are at home.
“What happens at the end of these four will tell us a lot about where we’ll sit. We want to prove we can challenge the top four.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for London Irish. I know a few of the boys there and one of the coaches.
“We will think about a gameplan to try and get the best possible result.”