DROITWICH captain James Shewell admits their North Midlands Shield defeat to Whitchurch will act as a wake-up call ahead of their Midlands Two West (South) opener this weekend.
Last season’s Midlands Three West (South) ‘Invincibles’ got the new campaign off to a slow start on Saturday with a 29-26 defeat to their Shropshire visitors, the club’s first competitive defeat since losing in the final of the RFU National Senior Vase to Farnham in May.
Bobby Scott-Walker, Matthew Barnes, Russel Brown and Phil Horton bagged the tries while Scott-Walker also scored two penalties.
Promoted Droitwich will be looking to bounce back from that disappointing defeat when they entertain Old Yardleians at the Glyn Mitchell Memorial Ground on Saturday.
“It was a strange feeling starting off the season with a defeat,” said Shewell.
“Whitchurch were two levels above us six months ago but got relegated so it was a good test to see where we are as a club.
“It was certainly a wake-up call for us because many times last season we felt the level we were at was one below where we wanted to be.
“Now we are back in Midlands Two West (South) we want to keep the winning formula going from last season.
“It’s going to be tough for us but there is plenty of quality in the squad to make an impact in this league.
“Old Yardleians are a very physical side, which will be a test for our younger players, but I am confident if we play our brand of rugby we will not have to worry about theirs.”
Prior to the start of the new campaign, Droitwich had a pre-season of mixed fortunes as they secured a 41-0 victory over Northampton Casuals, a repeat of last season’s Midlands Senior Vase semi-final, before falling to a 31-12 defeat to higher-ranked Worcester RFC.
Droitwich have also kept the majority of last season’s squad whilst bringing in a number of new additions including youngsters from the youth set-up.
Two 17-year-olds and one 18-year-old are expected to be drafted in for Saturday’s league game against Old Yardleians.
“One of the brighter points of pre-season has been the quality our youngsters have shown,” Shewell said.
“We always like to promote from our minis and juniors which means there are plenty of players pushing for a starting place every week.
“We have also had former minis and juniors players return to the squad who have brought along a few mates with them so there is going to be a lot of competition this season.”