Hartpury put season plans before local derby intensity tomorrow
DERBY intensity will not put Hartpury RFC off their pre-season stride tomorrow.
Alan Martinovic's men host Cinderford in their second warm-up match as they prepare for their National League Two South campaign that starts next month.
Hartpury face higher-league opposition for the second week running in taking on the National League One Foresters (kick-off 2.30pm).
Hartpury lost out 55-12 at well-funded Championship new boys Ealing Trailfinders last week.
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Rugby director Martinovic believes his side will be unfazed by both last week's loss and taking on local rivals.
Instead Martinovic and head coach John Barnes will tell their charges to repeat last week's flashes of promise.
"It's just another game for us, to get prepared for the season," he said.
"We will do what we need to against Cinderford. Bits of our game went well against Ealing, others didn't, so we just need to hope we replicate more of the good bits.
"There were some promising touches last week, but no five-star performances. We need to go out and build. I don't know much about Cinderford, so we are going to focus on ourselves.
"After these three games, we will have a clear idea how these guys will cope. If we can do well, that bodes well for the season."
Cinderford have signed 19 new players and will be a tough test for Hartpury, who are still waiting for first-team regulars to return.
While Hartpury have lost Will Graulich and Alex Dancer to Cornish Pirates and Ian Clark to Coventry, last term's captain Chris Fortey will remain at the helm, and Wayne Thompson will join the side from Bristol.
The absence of first-team players has given second-string players the chance to step up, and Martinovic said the side are feeling positive ahead of the season after missing out on promotion by one spot last term.
He continued: "We look forward to the season with optimism.
"It is early days but I know they have been training well. We've approached things differently in pre-season to freshen things up.
"As each game goes by, we hope to get better, get more cohesion in the team and get a better understanding so we are completely ready for league games."
Martinovic remains pragmatic about last season's near-miss, and warns his players that there will be some tough tests to come.
He said: "We didn't do enough last year, we simply didn't get enough points.
"This league is very tough and it's pretty wide open. There are teams coming up who are unknown quantities and you've got London Irish Wild Geese who will be supported by the Premiership side.
"It has taken some lads a long time to get used to it. We have some difficult places to go that will be very big tests. "There is a lot of quality in the teams around us and looking at last year, there will be people thinking we'll be strong contenders, and those teams will then raise their game. We need to be ready."