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SWANN DEMANDS IMPROVED PERFORMANCE FROM SHAKY SONICS

Bristol Sonics Head Coach Dom Swann has called on his side to put last weekend’s disappointing derby loss to Bath Rugby League behind them when they travel to face Swindon St George on Saturday (20th May).

Swann was furious with his side following Saturday’s defeat, claiming that they missed too many tackles and made too many errors with ball-in-hand. He’s looking for a vast improvement when the Sonics face the 2016 West of England League runners-up at Supermarine Sports & Social Club, Swindon, this Saturday.

Swann said: “There’s no two ways about it, we were poor on Saturday. Bath did the basics better than us and deserved to win, but I felt like we didn’t make them work hard enough for the victory. Swindon are a very good side, as they showed when they beat us in the West of England League semi-finals last August, so we can’t afford to be making the same kind of basic errors. To win, we need to complete our sets, defend better around the ruck and show a bit more composure in attack.

The Sonics player-coach, who is the only player to have featured in every season since the club’s inception in 2002, also told his players to forget about what happened when the two sides last met. He said: “The semi-final loss was disappointing but Swindon were the better side on the day. I don’t want players to be looking for revenge or making amends for that loss. It’s a new season and I want them to look ahead. All they need to do is focus on their game and help out their team mates for 80 minutes. If we do that, we have more than enough quality in the side to win, though it won’t be easy given their organisation and the players at their disposal.

On Saturday, Swann will have to make do without a number of injured players, including second-rower Mike Gaston, halfback Jamie Dinning and scrum half Jamie Swann. He’s boosted by the return of experienced players Lawrence Roycroft, Alex Potts and Jack Farler. Dan Brooker, who spent last season at Oxford following a close-season transfer, is in line to make his first appearance for Bristol since 2015. Swann may also be able to call on Sam Hodge and Jack Uren, who have been loaned to the Sonics by Championship 1 side University of Gloucestershire All Golds on a dual-registration deal. Uren, whose younger brother Joe also plays for the Sonics, made his first appearance for Bristol in 18 monthslast Saturday, scoring a trademark short-range try in the second half.

Saturday, Swann said: “We’re very grateful to Lee Greenwood at the All Golds for making Jack and Sam available to us. Both are Bristol lads on the fringes of their first time who are in need of game time. Jack started in the Sonics’ junior academy and played a big role in helping us reach the 2015 West of England Grand Final, so we’re hoping he’ll have a similar impact this season. If we can play a role in getting him back into Lee’s plans by giving him game time, it can only benefit everyone involved.”

Bristol Sonics face Swindon St George at Supermarine Sports & Social Club, Swindon, on Saturday May 20th, kick-off 2.30pm. Entrance is free for spectators.

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SONICS TO MEET BATH RUGBY LEAGUE IN DEBUT DERBY

A new Rugby League rivalry will begin on Saturday (13th May), when Bristol Sonics travel to Chippenham RFC to face Bath Rugby League for the very first time (kick-off 2.30pm).

The match not only marks the start of the 2017 West of England League season, but also the competitive debut of Bath Rugby League, a club formed earlier in the year by former Bath & Wiltshire Romans Chairman Chris Chatten.

Both Bristol and Bath have been placed in the West of England League’s “group of death” alongside 2016 Champions Portsmouth Navy Seahawks, beaten Grand Finalists Swindon St George, Plate winners Oxford Cavaliers and beaten Plate finalists Southampton Spitfires. The high quality of the other teams in the pool makes Saturday’s derby is a “must win” game for both sides.

Bristol Sonics Head Coach Dom Swann said: “The debut of any new club, particular a geographically close local rival, is a big occasion, but we don’t want Bath’s players and supporters to be celebrating at the end of the game. I’ve set the players the goal of making the top two at the end of the league campaign, which would put us in with a shout of reaching the Grand Final. If we’re going to do that, then we need to start by beating Bath Rugby League on Saturday.

“I’m expecting a very tough game. Bath’s side contains a number of players new to Rugby League, but also some others who have caused us problems when playing for other clubs in the region. If we go into the match with the wrong attitude and don’t follow the game plan then we could come unstuck. Nothing less than a strong performance and we could find ourselves in trouble.”

For the trip to Bath’s Chippenham RFC home, which last year hosted the West of England Grand Finals Day, Swann must do without inspirational skipper Alex Potts, injured backs Tom McIntosh and Jamie Swann, and fellow player/coach Lawrence Roycroft. A number of recent recruits are in line for West of England League debuts, including prop Phil Dickinson, centre Aedan Coleman, former Swindon St George forward Ben Brinkworth and utility player Jamie Dinning. Three of the Sonics West of England Lionhearts representatives – Byron Edwards, Matt Blacker and Jonny Mawer – are set to be named in Swann’s starting line-up.

Bristol Sonics face Bath Rugby League at Chippenham RFC on Saturday, May 13th, kick-off 2.30pm. Spectators are welcome.