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Rugby Union: Craig Ratford hopes Old Cooperians can put past displays behind them against Cantabrigians in cup

PUBLISHED: 17:30 12 October 2017

Old Cooperians players huddle together (pic Donald Hine)

Old Cooperians players huddle together (pic Donald Hine)

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Coops hoping to end three-game winless run with success this weekend

Old Cooperians head coach Craig Ratford says Saturday’s clash with Cantabrigians in the first round of the London section of the RFU Intermediate Cup is an opportunity for the club to improve on recent performances.

After opening the campaign with back-to-back wins in London Two North East, Coops are without a win on their last three outings in the division.

Last time out, the St Mary’s Lane club were beaten at home for the first time this term, losing 50-7 against Sudbury.

With a cup game this weekend, it is expected there will be some rotation to the starting XV for Coops.

And with that in mind, Ratford hopes the team can deliver a display approaching somewhere close to what is expected.

“The game on Saturday is another good opportunity for us to get back to the level we should be playing at,” said Ratford.

“We have a new signing on the bench and also some boys who haven’t had much of a chance in the firsts also starting.”

Against Sudbury last weekend, Coops were left to rue a poor start that ultimately proved costly.

The hosts, who have been hit hard in recent weeks by a string on injuries, struggled early on and by half time, they trailed 31-0.

Coops improved in the second half, with Joe Bilton crossing for a converted try, but they were unable to haul themselves back into contention.

The defeat saw Coops slip to seventh in the table, below Havering rivals Romford who won at home to Ipswich last weekend.

And while Ratford was happy with the improvement in the second half against Sudbury, he knows Coops can ill-afford to start matches that poorly against good teams.

“We started far too slow and Sudbury picked us off with some very well worked tries,” admitted Ratford.

“We managed to get back into the game after 20 minutes, but by then we were always chasing the game.

“Our second half performance was very pleasing compared to our opening 20, but we can’t allow a team like Sudbury a 20-point head start.”

With Coops looking to return to winning ways this weekend, they draw on having beaten Cantabs once already this term.

The St Mary’s Lane club won on the opening day of the season against Cantabs and would love a repeat on Saturday.

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