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SONICS SET FOR CONFERENCE LEAGUE 3 BOW

Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann has told his players to expect their “toughest challenge yet” when the club’s first Conference League 3 campaign gets underway at Clifton RFC on Saturday (K.O 2.30pm).The Sonics face stern opposition in the shape of last year’s Rugby League Conference National runners-up Kippax Knights, and Swann is under no illusions about the task facing his charges.Swann, the only current player to have been with the Sonics since their ill-fated first season in 2003, is expecting a tough challenge on Saturday. He said: “This will be our toughest challenge yet. Conference League 3 is one of four divisions featuring the best amateur sides in England. It is a huge step up from the level we were playing at last year and we’ll have to be at our very best to compete. Kippax Knights have been one of the strongest sides in the division over recent years, so we’ll have to play an almost flawless game if we want to get off to a winning start.”In preparation for the campaign, Sonics head coach Karl Fearnley has enlisted the help of nationally-renowned strength and conditioning coach Mark Hammond, who has previously worked with England Rugby League internationals Sam and Joel Tomkins. Thanks to his input, the Bristol team that takes to the field at Clifton RFC’s Station Road ground on Saturday will be the fittest and strongest yet.Sonics Head Coach Karl Fearnley said: “The players have been working incredibly hard in training to meet the physical demands of playing at an elite level of amateur rugby. They’ve done all we’ve asked of them and more. When we cross that white line on Saturday we’ll be ready. It”s hard to know where we stand in comparison to other teams in the division, but we couldn’t have done any more pre-season.”The Sonics are one of three new teams in Conference League 3 this season, but the only club with no previous experience at this level – making them favourites to struggle in the eyes of many tipsters. But Fearnley believes a few teams are in for a shock this year: “We’ll be competitive, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve worked incredibly hard on our defensive structures and we’re looking as sharp as ever in attack. We have some great backs and some strong forwards, so if we get it right we’ll go well. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re ready for the challenge.”Saturday’s game will be the first of five Conference League 3 fixtures this season played at Station Road, home of Clifton RFC, following a deal between the two clubs that may, in future, see the Sonics become full-time summer residents of the National League 2 South union club.Karl Fearnley said: “I’d like to put on record our thanks to everyone at Clifton, and particularly their Head of Rugby Darren Lloyd, for welcoming us to Station Road this season. It’s a top class facility befitting elite amateur and semi-professional rugby of both codes. We look forward to putting on a

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