Oundle head coach Peter Croot says he’s excited by the challenges his side face in Midlands Three East South this season.
Croot has led Oundle to the highest level in the club’s history – and on Saturday, they face their first home game of the season when Rugby St Andrews are the visitors.
“Every game is a challenge for us in this division,” said Croot.
“We’ve come up from a division where we knew all the teams and now we don’t know what to expect.
“That makes it exciting for us. It’s a good test of where we are as a team.”
Toby Snelling was the hero as Oundle came through a good test at Bedford Queens on the opening day of the season.
He scored 15 points – including the match-winning penalty with 10 minutes left – to help clinch a 20-18 win.
Croot said: “It was a bit more physical than last season, but we still dominated large parts of the game.
“We didn’t have our strongest side out either.”
During the summer, Croot brought back Joe Roberts, Mark Carter, JC Sagoe and Rob Shingles from Peterborough Lions – and looks set to continue the rebuilding of his back row with a new signing from Australian club rugby.
Patrick Anderson will be joining Oundle in the next couple of weeks and by then, Croot says he will have some idea of his side’s prospects this season.
He said: “The next two games (against Rugby St Andrews and Rushden) will tell us where we are and what we need to do.
“Rugby won by 50-odd points last week and Rushden are coming down from the division above.
“The target for us this season is staying up, but I think if we get everything right, we can finish in the top half.”
Rushden & Higham also got off to a winning start after their difficult campaign last season.
They hosted Old Scouts and just edged it 23-21 and now face the challenge of Men’s Own this weekend.
Kettering aim to make it three wins out of three in Midlands One East when Newark visit Waverley Road.
Blues followed an opening-day win at Mansfield with a 34-5 thumping of Market Rasen & Louth.
Joe Daniel was the hat-trick hero as Blues turned the tables on a team who beat them twice last season.
Daniel gave Kettering the perfect start with a try after just two minutes that he converted and he added a penalty to stretch the lead to 10-0.
Market Rasen trimmed the deficit with an unconverted try, but the Blues were 12 points clear at the interval following a Daniel Conyard try that Daniel converted.
After the break, Daniel added his second try and a conversion and Joe Newman’s try on 72 minutes secured a bonus point.
With three minutes left, Daniel completed his hat trick.
Scrum-half Ben Taylor marked his debut with a try as Wellingborough kicked off their season in Midlands Two East (South) with a 25-12 win over Biggleswade.
Boro were 10-0 up at the break through a Pete Vickers penalty and Ryan Mackie’s converted try.
Taylor added a second try after the break and Vickers’ conversion made the score 17-0.
Biggleswade pulled back a try, but Vickers’ penalty and a Tom Bryan try put the game beyond them at 25-5.
Boro’ head to Oadby Wyggestonians on Saturday.
Stewarts & Lloyds began life in Midlands Two with a fine bonus-point win over Dunstablians.
John Irongmonger, Gareth Lewis, Greig Cook and Chris Jones were their try scorers while the latter completed a personal haul of 17 points with three conversions and a penalty.
It was not such good news for their neighbours Corby who slumped to a 70-0 reverse on their opening-day clash with Sileby.
It was a performance that left manager Ricky Egan feeling downhearted.
He said: “This was the most frustrating display I have had to watch in a long time.
“We are no strangers to having a good score put against us.
“Normally we take it on the chin and agree the opposition were just too good.
“However, although Sileby were worthy winners we didn’t play anything like I know we can.
“On a positive note, we all felt the pain of underperforming and hopefully we will put it right for our first home fixture against Stamford College on Saturday.”