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GET READY FOR SUPER SONICS SATURDAY!

All four Bristol Sonics’ teams will be in action on the same day for the first time in the side’s history this Saturday (July 5th), as the club hosts the city’s first ever festival of Rugby League.

 

Super Sonics Saturday will take place on Saturday July 5th at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue Ground in Lockleaze, Bristol.

 

From 11.30am, sports fans will be able to take in no less than four games, with the club’s Under 14 and Under 16 Academy teams, adult second team, and adult first team all in action.

 

Entry for Super Sonics Saturday will be free all day, and fans will be able to quench their thirst and satisfy their appetite thanks to a bar and food. The club will also be holding a raffle, with exclusive Rugby League themed prizes including signed international shirts, match tickets and Sonics branded merchandise.

 

Special edition matchday programmes, featuring articles about the club and Rugby League in Bristol, will also be available.

 

The action begins at 11.30am with the Sonics Academy U14s and U16s simultaneously in action across two pitches. The Under 14s, who last weekend claimed a memorable 44-28 win away at Swansea Valley Rhinos, face Leicester Storm from the Midlands.

 

At 1pm, Bristol Sonics ‘A’ – the club’s second adult side – will be looking to continue their good run of form when they face local rivals Swindon St George in the West of England League.

 

The highlight of the day will then follow at 3pm, as the Sonics’ first team take on Oxford Cavaliers in Conference League South, one of the UK’s leading elite amateur Rugby League competitions.

 

Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole said: “We’re all really excited about the prospect of hosting Bristol’s first Rugby League festival on July 5th. It means a lot to be able to have all of the club’s teams playing on the same day. Supporters can watch the future of the club in the shape of our under 14 and under 16 teams, and watch our adult sides battling it out with local rivals. The bar will be open and entry is free, so there’s no better chance to come and watch some Rugby League in Bristol, whether you’re a confirmed fan or an interested newcomer.”

 

For more details on Sonics Super Saturday, fans can visit www.bristolsonics.com, or connect with the club on Twitter via www.twitter.com/BristolSonicsRL

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SONICS GUNNED DOWN BY OUTLAWS

There were times on Saturday when it looked, albeit fleetingly, like Bristol Sonics’ winless run in Conference League South may be coming to an end. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, with the Sonics again succumbing to a heavy defeat – this time at the hands of 2013 Grand Finalists Nottingham Outlaws.

As with previous matches this season, the Sonics showed glimpses of greatness but were guilty of not controlling the ball, giving away too many penalties, and allowing tries from avoidable defensive lapses.

It was a familiar story for Bristol’s small travelling band of supporters, who had headed to the University of Nottingham Sports Ground more in hope than expectation.

For all the disappointment, Head Coach Jason Talbot could see positives in his side’s performance. He said: “For the first time in a while, I thought we really looked like a team. The lads who pulled on the jersey gave it everything. We made mistakes, of course, but the effort was outstanding. We’re a team in transition, with a number of inexperienced players who are still finding their feet at this level, and in Rugby League. Our progress is slow, but we’re getting there. I expect that first win of the season to come sooner rather than later.”

Nobody epitomized this desire and effort more than second-rower Joe Singleton, stepping into skipper Dom Swann’s shoes. The former second team captain and Sonics stalwart led from the front, putting in a tireless shift in attack and defense. His desire to get the Sonics out of their losing rut was plain to see.

Reflecting on the match, Singleton said: “It was an honour to captain the side today. We’re going through a tough run at present, and it’s demoralizing for all of us. On Saturday the lads really had a go, and when things clicked – as they seem to do in spells in matches – we were the better team. We need to make sure we can do this over 80 minutes, and that’s our big challenge over the coming weeks. Do that, and our first win of the year will come.”

The Sonics started well, but fell behind early on to a try wide on the left. They were soon back into the game, though, with an error by Nottingham 20 metres from their own line offering loose forward Will Tobin the chance to break from the base of the scrum and feed winger Freddie Blanks, who scuttled over in the left corner.

Bristol battled manfully for the remainder of the half, showing good glimpses and largely defending well, while opening themselves up to sucker punches. Having spotted a weakness in the Sonics’ right side defence, the Outlaws repeatedly attacked on that side, scoring three more tries – one converted – down that side before the interval. Still, all was not lost at 18-4 at half time.

The second half again started positively, with Bristol squandering a couple of good opportunities to score before Nottingham hit them with a long range try. Soon, the floodgates opened, and it wasn’t until the last 15 minutes when the Sonics regained some control and began to show their skills. By that time, the home side had added three more tries – two of which were scored by hooker Scott Morton – and were effectively home and hosed.

Still, Talbot would have been impressed by the way his side finished the game. An altercation between centre Mike Gaston and his opposite number from Nottingham seemed to fire up the Sonics, who hit back hard in the final quarter of the game.

There was a moment of glory for young winger Jack Farler, who sprinted all of 60 metres down the touchline to score after receiving a near perfect pass from Fraser Robinson. Nottingham scored a runaway try shortly afterwards, before Bristol ended the game on a high with arguably the try of the game.

From a “free play” following a Nottingham error, Lawrence Roycroft broke free on the halfway line and found Joe Singleton in support. He charged down the middle of the pitch, only to be hauled down by a covering defender. As he fell, he slipped out a wonder offload to the supporting Fraser Robinson, who sprinted away to touch down under the posts. Fullback Mike Harrisson capped an impressive first team debut by adding the extras.

It was hardly a great day for the Sonics, but the way they finished it gives everyone a little more hope for the games to come. Bristol now return home, and host Oxford Cavaliers at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground on Saturday (5th July). The match is part of “Sonics Super Saturday”, a free festival of Rugby League featuring all four of the club’s teams. Entrance is free, with the first match kicking off at 11.30am.

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SONICS LOOK FOR RAPID IMPROVEMENT

Bristol Sonics’ players are so determined to turn around the club’s fortunes, starting with this Saturday’s game at home to Valley Cougars, that they’ve started turning up to training 20 minutes early.

 

Following the club’s fourth straight Conference League South defeat last weekend, the players decided to turn up to training sessions early in order to put in extra work.

 

Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann said: “After last Saturday’s defeat to Leicester the players got together and decided that we need to go that extra yard to turn around our fortunes sooner, rather than later. So we’ve started turning up at training 20 minutes early so that we can work on aspects of our game that we’ve been struggling with in matches. We all hate losing, and we hate making the same mistakes over and over again. This extra work is focused on cutting out those mistakes, both in defence and attack.”

 

The Sonics have lost each of their four 2014 Conference League South matches by wide margins, conceding over 40 points on each occasion. They are currently the only side without a win to their name and are rooted to the foot of the Conference League South table.

 

Bristol will be hoping this extra training will make a difference when they take on cross-Severn rivals Valley Cougars from Wales at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground this Saturday (7 June, Kick-off 2.30pm, free entry).

 

The Cougars have enjoyed a mixed start to the season, suffering a string of heavy losses but notching up an impressive win over Leicester Storm, who beat the Sonics 46-16 last weekend despite being down to 12 men for much of the game. Last weekend the Cougars travelled light to Champions Sheffield-Hallam Eagles and were beaten 120-6.

 

Sonics Head Coach Jason Talbot is expecting a much sterner test this weekend. He said: “Sometimes players let you down, and the fact that the Cougars went to Sheffield with 10 players has no bearing on this weekend’s match. They’ll be at full strength when they play us, as it’s a short trip and the Welsh-English rivalry is so intense. I’m expecting them to be a big, strong side that will pose a big test. If we’re going to win, we’ll have to dramatically improve, but we’ve been going well in training so hopefully we can translate that form into a win.”

 

Talbot has been particularly pleased with the commitment shown by his players of late. He said: “Numbers have been up at training recently and everyone is determined to turn our form around. I’ve been particularly pleased with the way the players took it on themselves to turn up early. That shows me that they’re hungry for success, and that there’s a steeliness there that was maybe lacking earlier in the season. You can tell a lot about players when they’re faced with adversity – the reaction we’ve shown to getting such a bad start to the season is encouraging.”

 

Bristol Sonics take on Valley Cougars at Landseer Avenue, Lockleaze, on Saturday June 7th, kick-off 2.30pm.

 

Meanwhile, Bristol Sonics ‘A’, the club’s second string, return to action on Saturday when they travel to face local rivals Swindon St George. They’ll be hoping to notch up a morale-boosting victory.

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TALBOT: SONICS “HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION”

Bristol Sonics’ Head Coach Jason Talbot believes his side is “heading in the right direction”, despite a disappointing start to the season.

 

The Sonics are rooted to the bottom of Conference League South following a trio of heavy defeats, but Talbot remains convinced that his side will be in the play-off picture at the end of the season.

 

Talbot, who took over coaching duties at the Sonics in January, said: “We’ve had a tough start to the season, but we’re heading in the right direction. In each game we’ve had decent spells, we just need to play better for longer periods. With so many personnel changes over the close season, this team is still a work in progress. We’ve barely trained together as a squad due to a number of factors, but over the last couple of weeks numbers have improved and the commitment is impressive. It will still take time to get where we want to be, but the signs are good.”

 

This Saturday, (May 31st) the Sonics travel to the East Midlands to face old foes Leicester Storm. The Storm has enjoyed a mixed start to the season, but should prove a stern test for the struggling Sonics.

 

Last season, the Sonics twice came from behind to claim dramatic, last-gasp victories in Leicester, and captain Dom Swann would love a repeat performance. He said: “In both of those matches last year we struggled for long periods, but we had enough desire and belief to hang in the game and take our chances when they came. We may need a similar sort of backs-against-the-wall performance on Saturday to defeat what I hear is a big, strong Leicester side. We could do with getting a win sooner rather than later, and Saturday would be a great time to notch up our first points of the season”.

 

Bristol Sonics A, the club’s second team, will also be looking to notch up their first win of the season when they host Oxford Cavaliers A at Dings Crusaders’ Landseer Avenue ground (K.O 2.30pm, free entry).

 

The Sonics’ second string, which features a number of young players from the club’s Academy set-up, produced a stirring second half comeback in their first game of the campaign a fortnight ago. Although they lost 70-50 at local rivals Gloucestershire Warriors, there were many promising signs for coach Tristan Moore.

 

He said: “We struggled a bit to begin with at Gloucester, but we were excellent in the second half. We trailed 38-8 at half-time, so to score 42 points in the second half was a tremendous achievement. Many sides would have folded, but the lads dug in and showed what we can do. We’ll be looking to tighten up defensively this weekend and hopefully that will be enough to put us on the road to a first win of the season.”

 

In a big weekend for the Sonics, the club’s Under-16 Academy Side will also play their first match of the season. They travel to Cheltenham to face Old Patesians on Sunday.

 

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Double Disappointment for Sonics

The Sonics Open Age teams endured a tough weekend with both 1st and 2nd teams in action for the first time this season. An understrength first team went down 44-18 away to Oxford and the seconds put in a brave performance but lost 70-50 away at Gloucestershire Warriors.

The 1st team found themselves under pressure from the kick-off as the Cavaliers camped down in their 20m but it took 12 minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Stand off Andy Winfield ghosted through the Sonic’s defence untouched to score under the posts giving the hosts a 6-0. The Sonics soon got back on level terms as they found some space down the right hand side. Dom Swann put centre Mike Gaston into a gap and he found his way over from 40m, beating the last defender with an outrageous side-step.

The game then saw defences on top till the 35th minute when the deadlock was broken by Ed Vickers who crashed over from 10 meters out to make it 10-6. Winfield once again added the easy extras to extend the lead to 12-6. Straight from the restart the Cavaliers broke once more and a weaving run Scrum Half Wez Newton saw him score next to the post to make the score 16-6. Andy Winfield once again added the simple extras making the half time score 18-6 to the Cavaliers.

The second half started off poorly for the away side with Ed Vickers picking up his second on 42 minutes and once again Winfield added the extras to put the Cavaliers in control at 24-6. The Sonic’s needed to score next to stay in touch and this they did with hooker Luke Williamson crossing over from close range. Swann added the extras to make it 24-12.

The Cavaliers then took advantage of a tiring Sonics defence having had control of the ball for the majority of the game. Four quick tries killed the game off before the Sonic’s had the last say with a try from winger Ryan Goodman on debut making the final score 44-18.

 

The 2nd team put in a brave performance in a game that Gloucestershire Warriors looked to have full control of at one stage. An improbable fightback was on the cards at one stage but Gloucestershire had enough quality to hold on despite conceding 10 tries. There were hatricks from Simon Price and 16 year-old Morgan Rees. Lawrence Roycroft added a brace with Harry Brooker and Freddie Blanks also crossing for the Sonics.

 

Both teams now have a week off league action over the bank holiday although a Sonics squad will be competing in the Bournemouth 7’s competition. Both teams return to action on the 31st May with the 1st team away to Leicester Storm and the 2nd team hosting Oxford Cavliers ‘A’.

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Junior Training Off to Flying Start

The Sonics Junior Academy training sessions continues this Wednesday (21st May) having got off to a great start. But please note there will be no session on Sunday 25th May as it is a bank holiday weekend.

Academy Chairman Ian Waters has been impressed with the standard of players and the enthusiasm shown in the first few training sessions: “We’ve had some good lads turn up and they’ve all got fully involved. We’re always pleased to get feedback on how the sessions have been received by players and parent and I want to share one of the fantastic comments that we’ve had through Facebook:

“Just back from taking Jake Knight to his first Rugby League session at Bristol Sonics. Surprised by how technical the game is and there is nowhere to hide on that park for the big units, unlucky son. The hits are hard and the workrate super high but he loved it! A nice change to Rugby Union! — at Dings RFC
Anyone wanting to get involved with the Sonics Academy must be U14 or U16 and should meet at Ding’s Crusaders RFC at 18:30 on Wednesday evenings and 10:30 Sunday mornings (excluding 25th May).
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JUNIOR RL RETURNS TO BRISTOL THIS SUNDAY

Junior Rugby League returns to Bristol this weekend, with the first of a series of regular training sessions for U14 and U16 players at Dings Crusaders RFC.

 

The popular Bristol Sonics Academy, run by the city’s Rugby League club, will offer training sessions and matches for junior players throughout May, June and July.

 

Training sessions take place at Landseer Avenue, home of Dings Crusaders RFC and Bristol Sonics RLFC, on Sunday mornings (10:30) and Wednesday nights (18:30), starting on Sunday 11th May and Wednesday 14 May respectively. Matches will take place on Sunday mornings, with the fixture list for the season due to be published on the Bristol Sonics website within the next couple of weeks.

 

Players between 12 and 16 years of age are welcome, regardless of previous Rugby League experience. Coaching will come from qualified, accredited, CRB-checked coaches, including a number of Bristol Sonics first team players.

 

Enrolling in Bristol Sonics Academy costs £20 for the season. All players get an exclusive Sonics Academy t-shirt when they pay their membership.

 

Bristol Sonics have seen an upsurge in interest in their Academy programme following October’s Rugby League World Cup 2013 match at the Memorial Stadium. It’s hoped that this year’s Junior Rugby League program will be the best yet.

 

A number of last year’s under-16 players have already made their open-age debuts for the Sonics, with Jack Farler appearing for the first team in their season-opener against Sheffield-Hallam Eagles a fortnight ago. Another Sonics Academy graduate, Morgan Rees, is in line to make his debut against Nottingham Outlaws this Saturday (Dings Crusaders RFC, kick-off 2.30pm).

 

Bristol Sonics Junior Chairman, Ian ‘Muddy’ Waters, said: “We’re really excited about this year’s Bristol Sonics Academy. Offering opportunities for youngsters to get a taste of Rugby League is of huge importance to the club. Rugby League is an exciting, all-action game where you’re involved in the action almost non-stop. It’s a great game to play, and any interested juniors are encouraged to come down on Sunday or Wednesday and give it a go.”

 

Bristol Sonics’ Club Captain Dom Swann said: “The Bristol Sonics Academy is the future of the club. We’ve already seen a number of players come through our junior ranks and play for the first team. In future, we’d love to be able to field an adult team entirely of former Academy players. The earlier you start playing the game, the more you can get out of it. I didn’t have a chance to play League as a junior where I lived, so it’s great that youngsters in Bristol are getting a chance to give it a go.”

 

For more information about Bristol Sonics Academy, prospective players and parents should check out www.bristolsonics.com or contact Ian ‘Muddy’ Waters on 07787 436158.

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SONICS TO MAKE LANDSEER AVENUE HOME

Bristol Sonics have agreed a deal with Dings Crusaders RFC which will see the latter’s Landseer Avenue ground in Lockleaze become the home of Rugby League in the city for the foreseeable future.

 

All open age and junior training sessions and matches will be held at the ground, starting immediately. Training sessions for the club’s two open age teams will take place on Tuesday and Thursday nights (6.45pm for a 7pm start), beginning today, 22nd April.

 

In addition, the Sonics will work with Dings Crusaders to make Landseer Avenue the focal point of Rugby League in Bristol. This will include hosting regular social events at the ground, increasing branding and working to raise awareness of the sport in the city and the important role the ground plays in the Sonics’ activities.

 

Bristol Sonics Chairman Phil Cole said he was delighted that agreement had been reached to make Landseer Avenue the Sonics’ home base. He said: “We’re thrilled that a deal has been agreed that will see the Sonics calling Landseer Avenue home for the foreseeable future. We have nothing but admiration for Steve Lloyd and all at Dings Crusaders for the way in which they’ve made the Sonics welcome on the previous times we’ve used the ground. We’re positive that securing a lengthy deal to make Landseer Avenue our base will help us push Rugby League forward in the city, following the massive boost given to the game following Bristol’s successful hosting of a 2013 Rugby League World Cup fixture last October.”

 

Bristol Sonics’ Club Captain, Dom Swann, said: “The players enjoyed the experience of playing at Landseer Avenue last season. The place feels like home and we’re positive that we can make it a “fortress”. The ground is easily accessible and has great facilities, so hopefully we can use this to build interest and get more fans supporting us on match days. We’re looking forward to kicking off the season this weekend at our new permanent home.”

 

Bristol Sonics’ first team begin their 2014 Conference League South campaign this Saturday at Landseer Avenue, with a difficult game against 2013 champions and 2014 title favourites Sheffield Hallam Eagles (kick-off 2.30pm).

 

Junior Rugby League will return to Landseer Avenue from Sunday May 11th, with regular training sessions and matches at both Under 14 and Under 16 level. More details will be announced in due course.

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COACH KEEN TO WELCOME NEW PLAYERS

Bristol Sonics’ Head Coach Jason Talbot has confirmed that the club is looking for new players for the 2014 Rugby League season, which begins in April.

The Sonics begin pre-season training on Wednesday 26th February, and Talbot is keen to welcome new faces.

Training sessions will take place weekly on Wednesday nights (7-8:30pm) at Dings Crusaders RFC in Lockleaze. Talbot is keen to stress that places in both the first and second team squads are always up for grabs.

I want to make it clear that all of our sides are picked on merit,” the Dewsbury-born coach said. “If you commit to coming down to training and want to play Rugby League, regardless of whether you’ve played the sport before, you’ll be considered for selection and will almost certainly get a game. There’s a difference in standard between the first and second teams, but many of our first team regulars started out in the second team and progressed to the firsts. If you’re good enough and willing to learn, we’d love to have you on board.”

The Sonics run two open-age adult teams. The club’s first team plays in the elite Conference League South competition, while the seconds play in the more social West of Englnad League.

We’re looking for players of all abilities,” Talbot said. “If you take your rugby seriously and want to progress, we can offer a high standard with our first team. We have players who come from good quality amateur and semi-professional rugby union clubs, players brought up on League, students and keen youngsters. Some of our other players hadn’t played much rugby of either code at all until they came to us, but have worked hard and are now first team regulars. If that standard’s too high for you but you want to give it a go, our second team players and coaches will make you very welcome.

Whatever your motivation, we’d love to see you at training.”

Sonics’ captain Dom Swann, who has been with the club since its first season in 2003, echoed Talbot’s sentiments. He said: “Rugby League is a terrific sport to play – it’s all action, with big hits, but the basics are easy to learn. Many of us started playing union, so if you’ve played that code you should be able to pick up League pretty easily. If you haven’t, you can still make the grade. If you’ve ever watched Super League on Sky or the Challenge Cup on the BBC and thought ‘I’d like to give that a go’, I’d encourage you to come down to training and see for yourself.”

Bristol Sonics will be training weekly on Wednesday nights at Dings Crusaders RFC, Landseer Avenue, Lockleaze, Bristol, BS7 9YS (see map below) from 26th February. Sessions, which last an hour and a half, begin at 7pm.

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WES WANTS ONE MORE WIN

Bristol Sonics veteran Wes Rodgers wants to end his playing career on a high – with a shock Tetley’s Challenge Cup win over his first ever club, Hull Dockers.

 

The East Hull-born utility forward and former Hull Kingston Rovers Academy player announced his retirement at the end of the 2013 season, but has decided to lace up the boots for one final time against his first junior Rugby League club.

 

Naturally, he wants to end on a high by helping the Sonics to their first ever Tetley’s Challenge Cup win, in their first encounter with a National Conference League Premier outfit.

 

Wes Rodgers said: “As soon as the balls came out of the bag and I saw we’d been draw away at Hull Dockers, I decided I’d make myself available to play one last time. It was just too tempting. I still have loads of friends up in East Hull, and the Dockers are a great club. I know they’ll make us all very welcome – their hospitality is legendary.

 

“Playing there will bring back a lot of memories. I’d love to finish on a high by helping the Sonics to upset the odds. They’re a great side so it will be very tough, but we know that on our day we can cause anyone problems. There’s been a buzz in training for the last few weeks. All the players know what a big deal it is playing in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, against one of the oldest and best-known amateur sides in the country. I can’t wait.”

 

The Sonics will go into Saturday’s game as underdogs, having lost their two previous Tetley’s Challenge Cup ties, to Leeds Met University and Eccles & Salford respectively. Hull Dockers, who play in the top division of the elite National Conference League, will offer Bristol their biggest on-field challenge to date.

 

Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann said: “We’re expecting a very tough match, possibly in difficult conditions. This is what we all play for, though – to test ourselves against the very best. If we upset the odds and win, it would be the best result in the club’s history. We’re heading up there with a do or die attitude – nothing will be left in the changing rooms. If that’s not good enough, so be it, but we’re going to give it our best shot.”

 

Saturday’s game will be the Sonics first under new Head Coach Jason Talbot. He’s looking forward to taking charge of Bristol for the first time. He said: “We’ve not had much time to prepare, as this is way out of our season, but it’s the same for Hull Dockers. Both sides may be a little bit rusty, and ultimately it will come down to who defends and controls the ball better. They’re a strong, skilful side, with bags of experience. To be honest we couldn’t have got a tougher draw. It’s a great opportunity, though. We’re representing Conference League South, and we have aspirations to play at the same level as teams like Dockers. This is our chance to show just what we can do.”

 

Talbot has named a 17-man squad featuring a blend of youth and experience, with Sonics’ standout forward of 2013 Jake Robertson fit to feature after an off-season blighted by injury. There are also spots for talented youngsters Freddie Blanks, Lee Bartlett and Jack Binks, alongside Sonics veterans Joe Singleton and Tristan Moore. Former Sonics star Marcus Brooker, who recently joined Championship 1 side Oxford RLFC from Gloucestershire All Golds, will be an interested spectator, having decided to join his former teammates on the coach to Hull.

 

Bristol Sonics face Hull Dockers at The Willows Sports & Social Club, Hull, on Saturday 1st February, kick-off 2pm.

 

Bristol Sonics squad (v Hull Dockers, 1//13): Duane West (captain), Freddie Blanks, Mike Gaston, Tom Verber, Jonny Wheeler, Alex Potts, Dom Swann (captain), Wes Rodgers, Matt Williams, Jake Robertson, Jack Binks, Joe Singleton, Rob Verber, Lee Bartlett, Wijnand Womhoudt, Jack Spooner.