Rugby Union: Old Cooperians begin planning for next season with London Two North East safety secured
13:00 13 January 2017
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Coops make the long journey to Norwich on Saturday
Old Cooperians coach Craig Ratford believes the St Mary’s Lane club can now start their plans for next season as they near the 40-point mark in London Two North East.
A crushing 45-19 derby success against local rivals Campion last weekend took Coops to 39 points this season with nine games to go.
Coops make the trip to Norwich this weekend knowing even a losing bonus point would be enough to reach the magical 40-point mark, a tally that would have seen them avoid relegation in each of the last three seasons.
And with that in mind, Ratford feels the club can afford themselves the luxury of having a look at some of their best prospects, with several set to travel with the first team to Norfolk tomorrow (Saturday).
“If we take anything from the game we will be happy, but it will be another learning curve for us at this level,” said Ratford.
“We’ll be taking a few of the youngsters with us to give them a chance to show what they can do, but they will also benefit from the experience of an away day like the one to Norwich.
“As a club going forward, we want to have a sustainable first team, so it’s good that our position in the table means we now have a chance to start looking at some of the younger boys.”
Coops will want to carry on from where they left off against Campion as they ended a four-game winless run in the league with derby joy.
Ray Flowers, Tom Morgan, Barney Moul and Pat Reed (2) all ran in tries in the success as Coops began 2017 with maximum points.
And Ratford knows another win this weekend will help generate some momentum at the start of the new calendar year, but is aware of the challenge posed by Norwich.
“We have to carry on this weekend, but it will be another challenge at Norwich and a different one for us,” he added.
“Not many teams win at Norwich and they’ll be gunning for us after we beat them at home earlier in the season (36-15 in October).
“Like everyone, they will know what’s coming this time after playing us before, but likewise we know a lot more about Norwich too.”
Last weekend’s win over Campion ensured Coops did the double over their local rivals this season, having won the earlier clash 35-10 at Cottons Park in September.
And Ratford was delighted it came with maximum points too, especially with Coops taking time to get going.
“We wanted the win, but the bonus point really was a bonus,” he added.
“We did well in the first half considering we had cobwebs, and Christmas puddings, to run off! It opened up more in the second and we took advantage.”
Campion will look to end their long losing run when they entertain Epping Upper Clapton tomorrow.
When the sides met earlier in the season, Campion went down 34-23 away from home in what is currently their narrowest margin of defeat.