Coombs keen for winning start against rivals

HIGH HOPES: Diss Rugby Club coach Roger Coombs is aiming to avoid the heartache of missing out on promotion again

HIGH HOPES: Diss Rugby Club coach Roger Coombs is aiming to avoid the heartache of missing out on promotion again

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Diss Rugby Club are hoping to avoid the heartache of last season by winning automatic promotion this time around.

The Mackenders-based side kick-off their league campaign with a mouth-watering local derby against Ipswich tomorrow (3pm).

Head Coach Roger Coombs is looking for a good start to the season: “If we can start well we’ll be on the right track,” he said.

“It is a very tough season and in order to gain automatic promotion you need to win nearly all your games. Unusually we start with two away games which will be difficult.”

The Blues have enjoyed a productive pre-season beating Bury St Edmunds II 13-5 and gaining vital experience against tough opponents, Southwold and Stowmarket.

“Last year we didn’t have any warm up games through the summer, but this year the games have been useful to try out new players, it worked well,” Coombs added.

Diss narrowly missed out on promotion to London One losing 16-13 to Chiswick in a hard-fought and tight play-off final affair back in April and Coombs is hoping for a positive response from the players in an attempt to return to the level the club believes is appropriate for their standard.

Coombs said: “The aim of the Club is to gain promotion into London One.”

The Blues have a similar side to last year, but have strengthened in a couple of areas with two players from New Zealand and players returning from University.

Captain Fraser Hall will continue to lead the side which includes a blend of experience and youth.

Forwards John Laurie, Paul Casey and Mike Fuller will continue to be a handful to the opposition packs and will maintain possession.

Recently-relegated Ipswich beat Diss a few years ago before Coombs was in charge, but he expects the game at the weekend to be much closer.

“We are a lot better than a few years ago,” he added.

“I know the captain, but don’t really know the team that well. I think we are a bit stronger from the front.

“We just need to concentrate on what we have to do rather than them.”

The squad are ready and raring to go for what is a long season but Coombs can’t wait for the season to commence.

“I am really looking forward to it. “The beginning is all about the unknown and seeing how the boys shape up in a competitive match, seeing how the new boys fit in. Some play well in training but not in matches and vice versa.”