THE region's National League Three North teams are stepping up their preparations for the new season as they renew their rivalry.

Once again, Kendal RUFC and Kirkby Lonsdale will be going shoulder to shoulder in the same division, but this will be the highest level they have ever met at.

For Kirkby, it is their first time in the division, but they should not be too daunted given the ease at which they strolled to the North One West title last time around.

Their record read 26 games, 26 wins. They were untouchable as they swept all others aside.

Pre-season for them consists of two fixtures. The first of which is a visit to Wharfedale this weekend before Bradford and Bingley visit Underley Park on August 19. The season gets under way at Birkenhead Park, the team who pushed them the closest last season.

Kendal also begin their pre-season fixtures on Saturday for the last ever game at Mint Bridge before they relocate to their new state-of-the-art ground up Shap Road.

Wilmslow will be bringing two XVs for friendly fixtures on Saturday, while they have further pre-season games on the road at Sandbach and Northumberland.

Last year represented an excellent return to the national level, as they followed up promotion in 2016 by finishing mid table, winning exactly half their fixtures.

Kendal kick off the new campaign away at Ilkley.

Tantalisingly, the two teams will meet for the first time in over a year on the second weekend of the season at Underley Park.