Bristol Sonics’ second team kick off their second season this Saturday (12th May) with a mouthwatering West Country derby against West of England League title hopefuls Somerset Vikings at Aretians RFC, Patchway, Bristol (kick off 2.30pm).In a packed weekend of action, Sonics’ first team continue their tough Conference League 3 campaign on Sunday (May 13th) with a tough trip to Conference League three heavyweights Hemel Stags, one of the competition’s in-form teams.Sonics’ second team player/coach Aran Simm has named a strong squad for the clash with long-time rivals Somerset Vikings. It features a mix of 2011 second team regulars, exciting newcomers and fringe first team players – including a number who have played in this season’s Conference League 3 campaign. The forward pack in particular is bristling with experience, with Simm himself being joined by Andre Samura and Ryan Hall – two of the success stories of the Sonics 2011 RLC Midlands Premier winning season – big loose forward Wayne Cochram and recent first teamers Nathan Rainer and Lewis Beer.Somerset head to Bristol on the back of a 60-point hammering of Swindon St George, and will be out to avenge the Sonics’ Seconds’ friendly victory at Aretians last season. Matches between the two sides are rarely disappointing – in 2003 Bristol beat the Vikings 42-40 with a last minute try – and tomorrow’s encounter is likely to be another nailbiter.Aran Simm said: “Having seen the first team start their season almost a month ago, all the second team lads are chomping at the bit to get going. We couldn’t have asked for a tougher first game, because Somerset are in excellent form. We’re all raring to go and would like to set down a marker for a successful season. Last year we did really well after a slow start. This year we want to hit our straps from the word go.”The fact that Sonics’ first team travel to Hemel on Sunday offers an opportunity for Head Coach Karl Fearnley to assess the potential of Simm’s side, with a view to drafting players into his squad later in the season.Hemel will provide a stern test of the Sonics’ ability to compete at Conference League 3 level. With the Stags stepping up to Rugby League’s semi-professional divisions next season, they’re expected to be one of the leading contenders for the CL3 title this year. They’ve started the season impressively and will be looking to rack up points against a Sonics side who have found the going tough so far.Fearnley is confident his side can continue to improve this weekend and provide difficult opposition for the Stags. He said: “Losing by 62 points last week was a difficult experience, but there was plenty to get excited about. Huddersfield-Underbank are a tough side, but we competed with them for long spells. We knew when we entered this League that it would be hard going to begin with, but every week we’re improving a little bit. This week will be no different. If we keep improving week on week, results will improve – we just have to be patient.”Fans who can’t make this weekend’s matches can follow the Sonics’ progress on Twitter at The Sonics media team will be “tweeting” live score and incident updates direct from Aretians and Pennine Way.

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