Kirkby Lonsdale skipper Matt Hughes targets victory in season opener at Wilmslow (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Kirkby Lonsdale skipper Matt Hughes targets victory in season opener at Wilmslow
Skipper Matt Hughes is looking for Kirkby Lonsdale to lay down a marker and issue a statement of intent as the League North One West campaign gets underway this weekend.
The Rams start on the road and head to Pownall Park for a showdown with Wilmslow, having lost out to the Cheshire side twice last year.
Nevertheless, Hughes believes his side are well-equipped to build on last season’s finish, when they finished the campaign fourth-bottom of the division.
“Wilmslow have been in this league for a lot of years now and they are a mid-table team, always finishing there or thereabouts,” he said.
“It’s a game we are definitely targeting to win, we lost 23-17 down there last time around but we are going there now with a stronger group.
“We’re looking to get a win and we’re looking to build on last year. We have a better squad than in previous years so we’re aiming for a mid-table finish.”
After a successful pre-season tour of Oxfordshire where Kirkby Lonsdale beat Banbury, the Rams also recorded victory over Leeds-based outfit Yarnbury.
Hughes and Co. rounded off their warm-up games with an impressive home win over Keighley, with the second-row forward now straining at the leash for the competitive action to start.
“It was a brilliant result against Keighley, who brought a big squad of 21 down and they played the strongest line-up they had,” he added.
“We certainly seem to be in good shape going into the new season, there are still a few bits to work on but that was our first game with our full first-team.
“It’s probably been one of the best pre-seasons we’ve had for many years as we’ve had some good results and decent numbers down training. We’re really looking forward to Saturday now.
“We feel we’re fully prepared for this weekend’s opener and we up for the challenge.”
There is a new-look to Underley Park this season with some key personnel changes taking place over the summer – Brian Gregory has replaced departing chairman Richard Harkness.
Change is also evident in the dugout following the retirement of Mike Nelson, with Andrew Selby joining John Pickthall, Mark Grayson, Sam Konczynski and Steve Williams to conduct coaching duties.
And Hughes is pleased with how the new set-up is working, with the 29-year-old believing the different management structure is having a positive effect.
“Mike retired after 20-odd years at the helm and the new lads have come in – three are ex-Kirkby Lonsdale players while Andrew brings great experience from his time with Northampton Saints.
“Whereas previously we had a head coach, we now have a number of coaches all of who have an input into proceedings.
“Everyone is working towards the same goal and training has really been shaken up, which has kept the players on their toes.”
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