London One North: Jamie Connors expects difficult start away to Saffron Walden, but confident Eton Manor can claim success
PUBLISHED: 17:30 30 August 2017
New Zealander has been delighted with pre-season so far and revealed how much competition for places there is at the New Wilderness
Eton Manor start their London One North season away to Saffron Walden on Saturday and head coach Jamie Connors knows it will ask questions of his squad.
The New Wilderness outfit finished fifth in 2016/17, but are looking to do better this time around.
Connors’ team have a tough start however, as they travel to Walden, who were eighth last season and held Manor to a 29-29 draw at Springate on November 5.
He added: “It was quite an unusual game last year and it was one where we dominated in a lot of areas all around the park, but credit to them they were able to score a few tries against the run of play and kept themselves in it.
“We were hammering their line for the last 10 minutes, but weren’t able to get that winning score.
“This will be their second season in the league, so they will probably be improved. It should be an interesting day and it is not an easy game to kick-off with that’s for sure.”
Manor’s head coach has a tough decision to make over his starting XV on Saturday after seeing several players impress this month.
Wins over Maidstone and Wanstead have added to an already good feeling around the New Wilderness club.
“Our last pre-season probably wasn’t great because we had a lot of guys who had endured a difficult campaign in the National League Three South,” said Connors.
“We didn’t win a game, so it took them a little bit of time to get into it and we recognised that, but what has been good this year is a lot of first-team guys have been at sessions all the time.
“It has been the same for the two games so far and the sides we have put out for the two matches have been the strongest we have managed to select for a number of years.
“Generally a lot of guys are away, but it seems this season people have made sure they are around for the sessions and the games.
“We will have to wait and see what that means for our first league fixture, but it seems we are in a much better place right now compared to this time last season.”
Connors explained how a recent victory over Maidstone on August 19 has left him with plenty to think about ahead of Saturday’s clash at Walden.
He added: “There are plenty of other new boys who are just showing up or have naturally moved near to the club and come down.
“We have a really good wide-ranging squad and against Maidstone we had around 35 players and we were able to play two teams that were both pretty strong.
“There was not a huge amount of difference between them. I did pick a team that I had in mind for the first league game and they played together, but the other side was not far off. It means it will be pretty difficult for us when it comes to selection time.”