IT MAY only be the second week of the rugby season, but Tamar Saracens coach Stuart Busfield believes his side’s trip to Paignton could be crucial in terms of their season.
Newly-promoted Saracens opened their debut Cornwall/Devon League campaign with a 3-0 ‘home’ win over fellow new boys Lanner at Brickfields last Saturday.
Although delighted to get off the mark with a victory in horrible conditions at a temporary venue, Sarries feel they will not really know how they might fare at level eight until they play an established side like Paignton this weekend.
Paignton finished eighth last year in the Cornwall/Devon League and last weekend beat much-fancied Saltash at Moorlands Lane.
Busfield knows it will be a big test for his team, but he feels it will show whether they are likely to struggle in the league or be challenging towards the top.
“We are very excited about Saturday and going away to Paignton,” said Busfield.
“They are an established team at this level and it will give us an indication of where we are.
“I know it is still very early in the season, but we see this game as one of the most important for us.”
He added: “Obviously there is a bit of apprehension, but we have talked about the extra effort required to a) stay in this league and b) to challenge near the top.”
Sarries are able to welcome back prop Jack Martin and second-row Richard Bush, who both missed last weekend’s win over Lanner.
Busfield believes they will be key players for the club this week against a Paignton side who have a strong forward game.
After their defeat to Paignton last weekend, Saltash will be looking for a response when they travel to Penryn, who were relegated with them from Western Counties West in April.
Both matches between the two sides last season were really close, with home advantage key.
Saltash won 29-25 at Moorlands Lane at the start of April, but lost 29-24 at Penryn in December.
Like Saltash, Penryn also lost by three points last weekend, going down 15-12 at Plymstock Albion Oaks.
Oaks, meanwhile, face a tough test away at the Pirates Amateurs.
The Pirates opened their season with a 6-0 win at Plymouth Argaum and they are known for being strong on their home pitch at Mennaye Field.
That is a ground Oaks’ coach Tim Mathias knows well having played there for Mounts Bay.
Plymstock, who finished fourth last season, are still missing quite a few players but they will have taken great encouragement from beating Penryn with so many absentees last weekend.
They entertain last year’s third-placed side Withycombe at Bickleigh Down (3pm).
Argaum’s new coach Gordon ‘Taff’ Howells is likely to make only one enforced change to his side as he looks to build on last week’s display.
The city side had their chances to take more than just a losing bonus point out of the match. They missed two kicks at goal and also felt a couple of key decisions went against them.
“Hopefully, weather permitting we can show what we can do this week,” said Howells.
“We are still a work in progress, but last week it was not the Pirates that beat us, even though they are a very good side. They couldn’t handle us for the last 25 minutes.
“Hopefully, we can get a result on Saturday.
“It’s another home match and then the week after we have OPOs (Plymstock Albion Oaks), which will be a good one. We will have played three of the top teams then – three very strong sides.”
Meanwhile, Tavistock will travel to Lanner on Saturday in confident mood after starting their campaign with an impressive 23-7 home win over Honiton last weekend.
Tavistock have also re-launched their second team and they will play Tamar Saracens in their opening Armada League game.
South West fixtures can be found HERE