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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.
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.
Bristol Sonics travel to face local rivals Swindon St George at Supermarine Sports Club this Saturday, with a place in the West of England Rugby League Grand Final at stake.
The Sonics rounded off the league phase of the season with a dominant 26-58 away win at Somerset Vikings last Saturday, and go into this weekend’s play-off semi-final as the competition’s form team.
Free-scoring Bristol finished joint top of West of England League Pool A, level on points with United Services Portsmouth Navy Seahawks, having scored more tries and points than their South Coast rivals. However, as Portsmouth came out top in “head to head” results between the sides, they have been awarded with top position, and therefore home advantage in their game against Cheltenham Phoenix, who finished second in Pool B, behind Bristol’s opponents on Saturday, Swindon St George.
The Sonics have an excellent record against the team from Wiltshire, though Swindon have been in excellent form this season and will provide a stern test of Bristol’s title credentials.
Bristol player/coach Dom Swann, who missed the Somerset fixture due to family commitments, said: “Swindon have been much improved in recent years, and have been particularly good this season by all accounts. While we’ve not played them in 2016, we’ve been watching their progress in Pool B with interest. The fact that they topped Pool B, ahead of decent sides such as Southampton and Cheltenham, suggests that they’ll be a very tough side to beat on Saturday, especially on their own pitch. We’ve been building all season for the play-offs, so we’re confident, but we’ll have to play very well to get a win.”
Swann, who will return to the starting line-up on Saturday in his preferred stand-off role, is boosted by the return of a number of first-choice forwards. Skipper Alex Potts, prop forward Byron Edwards, second-row Matt Blacker, player-coach Lawrence Roycroft and utility back Josh Spuyman all return. Swann is likely to stick with the core of players who have brought success to the Sonics this season, including centre Alun Roberts-Jones, prop forward Kieran Harvey, free-scoring forward George Burnie, and young backs Jonny Mawer and Joe Uren.
Swann said: “The fact that so many people have played well this season makes my job difficult. We have a number of talented players competing for every position, which is a good problem to have. I’ll see how the guys train this week, and make a decision on selection after that.”
Bristol Sonics take on Swindon St George at Supermarine Sports Club, Swindon, on Saturday 13th August, kick-off 2.30pm. The winners will compete in the West of England League Grand Final, which takes place at Chippenham RFC on Saturday August 20th (K.O 3pm).
FACTS & TRIVIA
• Bristol have previously played in one West of England League Grand Final, losing to Bath & Wiltshire Romans in 2016
• The Sonics won their first title in 2007, defeating Burntwood Barbarians in the Grand Final of the RLC West Midlands division. They won another West Midlands title the following year, reaching the national Grand Final, which they lost to Doncaster’s Thorne-Moor Moorends Marauders. Bristol also won the RLC Midlands Premier Grand Final in 2011, defeating Leicester Storm in the final
• The Sonics have scored 95 tries in 11 games this season, more than any other team in the West of England League.
Bristol Sonics are looking to put last Saturday’s loss to Portsmouth Navy Seahawks behind then when they travel to face local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors at Gordon League RFC tomorrow.
The Sonics performed admirably for much of the game against their closest title rivals last Saturday, but poor discipline in the closing stages – which included two sin-binnings from referee Malcolm Holmes – ended up in them losing the game 42-34, and their position at the top of the West of England Pool A table.
With Portsmouth enjoying a week off, the Sonics can return to the top of the table on points difference with a victory over the Warriors on Saturday. When they sides last met, Bristol ran out comfortable winners 78-26, but it’s likely to be a much closer affair in Gloucester.
Bristol player/coach Dom Swann will have to make do without a host of first team regulars, though he’s boosted by the return of powerful prop forward Byron Edwards and half-back Josh Spuyman. Skipper Alex Potts, whose controversial sin-binning changed the Portsmouth game in the visitor’s favour, will be looking to help get his team back on track.
Potts said: “We had the game under control last Saturday, but our discipline let us down and we ended up losing a crucial match that we should have won. I hold my hands up and say I was as guilty as anyone for the high penalty count. We knew exactly what to expect from the referee and were warned many times, but continued being ill-disciplined. On Saturday we can’t afford to do that again. It’s a match that we really have to win, and I will be leading from the front.”
Dom Swann said: “Due to holidays and other absences we’re up against it a bit tomorrow, but we know what we have to do and I have full confidence in the squad. It might be tighter than our last game, and they will be desperate to get a win as we’ve beaten them fairly comfortably in recent encounters. We have to be on our mettle for the full eighty minutes, and keep on the right side of the ref. If we can do that, we stand a good chance of grabbing the points.”
Bristol Sonics travel to take on Gloucestershire Warriors at Gordon League RFC, Gloucester, on Saturday 16th July, kick-off 2.30pm.
Bristol Sonics player/coach Dom Swann says he’s expecting a tough game when Forest Bulldogs make their first visit to Landseer Avenue on Wednesday night (22nd June, kick off 7.30pm).
Having not lost since the opening day of the season, the Sonics are in a rich vein of form, but veteran Swann is still wary of the threat posed by the Bream-based West of England League newcomers.
He said: “We played the Bulldogs in a friendly at their place last year, and while we had an experimental side out, we only just scraped home with a win. Although they’re still taking their first steps in Rugby League, they can call on a number of good quality rugby union players from clubs in and around the Forest of Dean. We know from past experience that players from that area tend to be strong and run hard, so we’re expecting another tough test of our defensive capabilities.”
While Bristol has won three of their four Pool A games this season, racking up an amazing 222 points in the process, the Bulldogs have found things a little tougher in their debut West of England League season. Since beating under-powered Somerset Vikings in their first game of the campaign, the Bulldogs have lost to fellow Pool B sides Southampton Spitfires and Cheltenham Phoenix. The meeting between the cross-Severn rivals will be the first “cross-pool” fixture of the season, allowing the two sides to get a better idea of the comparative strength of the other half of the draw.
Dom Swann said: “We now have a good idea what we’re up against in our own pool, having faced all of the other sides once. We’ve beaten all but one of those sides, but it’s hard to know how they compare to those teams in Pool B. In some ways we’re playing ‘blind’, though having faced the Bulldogs in a friendly last year we have a fair idea of their capabilities. Our pool is so tight this year that we can’t afford any slip-ups if we want to make the end of season play-offs, and ultimately the Grand Final, which has always been our aim. That means we simply have to win, and put in another impressive performance”.
If they manage a win, the Sonics will go four points clear at the top of the West of England League Pool A table, having played more games than their closest rivals for a top two finish, U.S Portsmouth Navy Seahawks and Oxford Cavaliers. By the time the Sonics face the Seahawks on July 9th, the Portsmouth-based side could have pulled level on points at the top of the table.
Swann is hoping to field a similar side to the one that overpowered Gloucestershire Warriors 78-26 on Saturday, but will have to make do without fellow player/coach Lawrence Roycroft and prop forward Sam Collins. Powerful prop Byron Edwards will replace the latter, while experienced second-rower Joe Singleton is also likely to return after missing Saturday’s game. Full back Jack Farler, who scored an eye-catching hat-trick of tries against the Warriors on his first appearance of the season, leads a back-line that scored ten tries between them at the weekend.
Bristol Sonics face Forest Bulldogs at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground in Lockleaze on Wednesday 22nd June, kick-off 7.30pm. Entrance is free for spectators. Those who can’t make the game can follow updates of the match via the Sonics Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL
Bristol Sonics will be looking to make home advantage count when they face local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors and Forest Bulldogs over the next seven days.
Bristol Sonics and Bath & Wiltshire Romans will renew their on-field rivalry this Saturday, for the first time since last year’s thrilling West of England Grand Final.
Bristol Sonics’ preparations for the 2016 summer Rugby League season take a step up this Wednesday (20th April) when they face military opposition at Landseer Avenue, home of hosts Dings Crusaders RFC.
The Sonics will face the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers (kick-off 7pm), in a match that should test the home side’s mettle ahead of the up-coming West of England League season.
Preparations are underway for the 2016 season and the club would like to hear from prospective players. Having come close to a grand final victory with a rebuilt squad last season, the club has set its sights on going one better in 2016.
Sonics coach Dom Swann is looking to build a strong squad for this year’s campaign: “Last season was about rebuilding as we had a high turnover of players from the previous year. But thanks to everyone’s hard work we really progressed as a squad so we’re now looking to kick-on from last year’s success. Experience tells us that we’ll need a big squad, especially as it looks like we’ll have more games this summer. Competition for places is key to us progressing and it would be great to be able to field a second team again this year so we’re looking for players of all experiences and abilities.
Last season we had a lot of players new to the game and I’m sure they’ll all tell you how much they enjoyed the season. We’re a really open and friendly club so I’d encourage anyone to come and give rugby league a go. There will be plenty happening off the pitch as well this season with regular socials including a trip up to Newcastle for the Super League Magic Weekend.”
The Sonics will be competing in a new-look West of England division with pre-season training will start on Wednesday 6th April 2016 at Dings Crusaders RFC. Keep an eye on the website and the club’s social media accounts before then for further announcements about the upcoming season.
Any prospective players should register their interest using the Contact Us page.