Hastings & Bexhill Rugby Club is eager to hit the ground running as it prepares to return to action after the festive break.
H&B will resume their London Three South East campaign by making the trip to Old Williamsonians this coming Saturday.
Asked how important it is to make a fast start to the second part of the season, H&B head coach Chris Brooks said: “Extremely important, especially this particular game because of the relationship between the two sides having come up together and the fact that we both seem to be vying for the same sort of mid-table bracket.”
A bit of a rivalry has developed between the two clubs over the last season-and-a-half. H&B beat Williamsonians to the Kent One title last term, although the two meetings between the sides produced one win apiece.
Both have adjusted well to the next level up during the current campaign. H&B lie seventh in the 12-team division - one place and one point below their opponents - and it was Williamsonians who prevailed 18-7 in September’s reverse fixture.
“There’s definitely some rivalry there as we were vying for the title last season and they’ve had a very good start to this season as well,” continued Brooks. “It’s vital we perform against teams like this.
“I think we had one of those days where things didn’t gel like they ought to do (in the reverse fixture). It wasn’t a particularly good day at the office for us that one and we’ll be hoping to improve on that.
“They’ve beaten some teams that we’ve lost to and vice-versa. I think the style we play is sufficient to get a result, it’s just a case of getting it right on the day.”
H&B have won five and drawn one of their 12 league encounters so far this season, with all of their six defeats coming by a margin of 11 points or fewer.
“We would like to get a run going like we did near the beginning of the season,” Brooks went on. “We do have a run of eminently winnable games before we start playing the top four again and we need to stamp our mark on the second half of the season as early as possible.”
With 10 games to go, six of which are away from home, H&B are seven points outside the top four and nine ahead of the bottom three.
“Fifth, sixth or seventh I will see that as having achieved target,” added Brooks. “Fourth would be brilliant. I don’t want to be the just survivors at fourth-from-bottom.
“I would like to improve on the first half of the season, win one or two more games and target the narrow defeats that we should’ve won, against the likes of Crowborough and Lewes, whilst continuing to perform against the lower clubs.
“It’s a case of being on form for every game. I would like to target more than 50% of our remaining games realistically.”
H&B are due to resume formal training tonight (Thursday) and Brooks is expecting good availability for the opening fixture of 2018.