Maroons aiming to start season with a bang

Whitby RUFC kick-off their 2016/17 campaign at home to Ashington on Saturday
Whitby RUFC kick-off their 2016/17 campaign at home to Ashington on Saturday

Whitby RUFC’s 1st XV kick-off their Durham & Northumberland Division Two season on Saturday when they host Ashington at the Showfield.

And the Maroons are determined to get off to a winning start as they look to build upon 2015/16’s impressive showing and eighth-placed finish.

Last season was the first time in well over a decade that the club have avoided demotion back to Division Three after a series of promotions that were followed immediately by relegation.

“We surpassed all expectations last season, and we now have the aim of trying to better what we achieved last time around,” team manager Matt Jones said.

“We put 70 points past Ashington when we played them at home last season and also beat them away, so we’re confident that we can win on Saturday and get off to the perfect start.

“We’re not taking them lightly though, they have a big pack who we know will make it tough for us.

“We are going to have to front up in the forwards and match them, then get the ball out to our backs where we can hurt them.”

If Whitby are to match last season’s achievements, they will have to do so without influential head coach Darryl Grason, who has stepped down from the role after four years at the club’s helm.

“We want to say a big thank you to Darryl,” Jones added.

“He deserves a lot of credit for everything he did, particularly for being the first coach in more than a decade to keep the team in Division Two.

“Darryl will be missed, but Rob Reed is stepping up from the 2nd XV to help me run the 1sts, although we are still on the lookout for another coach.”

The Maroons are without the services of skipper Gordon Bland and his brother David for the visit of the men from Northumberland, but are otherwise at full-strength for the clash which kicks off at 3pm.