West Norfolk skipper sets sights on top-four finish

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Skipper Paul Bridges has set his sights on a top-four finish with West Norfolk Rugby Club as his side gear up for the new season.

The Gatehouse Lane outfit, who finished third-from- bottom last term, open their campaign at home to Thetford tomorrow.

Going into the season, Bridges is confident the club has the players to improve and said: “We have managed to retain quite a few players from last season so the big emphasis is to do better than we did last season.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t finish in the top half and a top-four finish is very realistic with the squad we’ve got.”

Front row Bridges is in his second year of captaincy, while Jake Huggett has taken the helm of the development squad.

Huggett will work alongside Dominic Spurrier, who remains as captain of the more social thirds.

The senior squad has attracted a number of players over the close season, including both new and returning.

With the RFU restructuring the league it now means West will be competing in London 3 Eastern Counties.

This will mean no more long away trips to Essex-based sides and a renewing of several local derby games against the likes of Wisbech, Ely and Wymondham.

Bridges hopes this will play into West’s favour, saying: “We’ve got a lot less travelling to do this year.

“Last season, a lot of players with young families didn’t want to be travelling down to Essex all of the time.

“We’d leave at 10am and perhaps not get back until 8.30pm, but this year the amount of travelling we’ve got to do is more attractive for those guys to play.”

The Thetford fixture is followed by an away trip to Holt, but a new-look side has been showing promising signs with hard-fought defeats to Norwich and Harlow, plus impressive 17-10 and 52-7 victories over Spalding and Swaffham respectively.

The likes of Jack Windass, Hayden Revell and John Lemon have been demonstrating exciting signs alongside the more seasoned skills of Rory O’Sullivan, Sam Moses and Ollie Ridout.

West Norfolk fielded a mixed side of first and second team players against newly-promoted and a well-disciplined Harlow side.

After the game, Bridges said: “Despite the result I cannot be prouder of the lads that travelled to Harlow.

“They all showed great commitment and gave 110 per cent all the way to the end.

“Harlow are a strong side, however I felt we showed some strong defence in the middle of the park, causing them to have to go around us to score.

“I hope we can take this mentality into our first league fixture with Thetford, where we can back this up with some organised, attacking play.”

Tomorrow’s match against Thetford kicks off at 3pm and all spectators and new players are welcome.

Senior training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays – 6.45pm meet for 7pm - at the club’s home base in North Wootton.