Conference League South leaders Bristol Sonics return to action this Saturday, when they take on St Albans Centurions in the first of three consecutive home games.
The Sonics have traditionally enjoyed a strong record at home, and have lost just once in Bristol this season – a 36-30 reverse to fellow title-chasers Sheffield-Hallam Eagles. With the Eagles boasting a game in hand and due to visit Bristol next weekend, the Sonics will be looking to make the most of tomorrow’s game with strugglers St Albans at Landseer Avenue, home of Dings Crusaders RFC (kick-off 2.30pm).
Bristol will have to do without skipper, goal-kicker and main playmaker Dom Swann, who is currently away on his honeymoon. It will be the first time this season that the Sonics have played without the inspirational Swann, who will also miss next week’s rematch with Sheffield.
With other regular playmakers also missing, South African Johan Schoeman returns to scrum half, with second team graduate Alex Potts likely to deputize for Swann at stand-off. Gloucestershire All Golds’ Rory Sharratt, a regular for the Sonics this season, looks set to continue at hooker.
Second team player/coach Aran Simm will be coaching the first team in the absence of Director of Rugby Karl Fearnley. Simm expects a tough game against a St Albans side who have won only once this year.
Simm said: “Despite their results, St Albans are a decent side and I’d expect them to give us a very tough game. If we’re just a little bit off our game they’ll punish us. When we last met in St Albans we won comfortably, but with players missing and new halfbacks it may take us some time to gel. We’ll only win if we play well, so we need to be on our game right from the first whistle.”
To encourage more spectators to come down and show their support for summer Rugby League, the Sonics are offering free entry to the game on Saturday.
Bristol Sonics’ Chairman Phil Cole said: “With the Rugby League World Cup coming to Bristol later in the year, there’s no better time to check out some live Rugby League. By making entrance free, we hope that many new fans will take the opportunity to check out the sport for themselves. I started out as a rugby union supporter in my youth, but was converted by the speed, excitement and intensity of Rugby League. If you’ve not been to a live match, it’s worth checking out Saturday’s game for free.”
Meanwhile, Bristol Sonics ‘A’ travel to West of England League form side Gloucestershire Warriors (Old Centralians RFC, Gloucester, K.O 2.30pm) on Saturday, buoyed by an impressive win over Oxford Cavaliers last weekend.