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Top four is Whites' ambition

By Herald Express  |  Posted: January 09, 2014

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NEWTON Abbot's prospects of a top-four finish will hinge on how they perform over the next month.

That's the overview from director of rugby Roy Henderson ahead of Saturdays trip to Old Patesians in National Three South West.

Newton finished fourth last season and anything lower than this time around would be a disappointment.

"Top three is not beyond us and would represent quite a turnaround after the run we had of five straight defeats in the first half of the season," said Henderson.

"Fourth is within reach, but we need to make the best of our home games coming up against Old Centralians and Worcester Warriors, who are both below us.

"We have already beaten Old Pats at home and while it is dangerous to presume anything we can feel confident of getting a result there.

"Then it gets tougher – leaders Lydney at home in the rearranged game – but we have three home games on the trot including that one and have to take advantage of them."

Henderson is also keen to have a crack at the Devon Cup this year, an honour that has eluded the All Whites since 1927.

"We have got to get past Brixham first, which won't be easy, but it is certainly something to aim for," said Henderson.

Newton Abbot were due to play Lydney at Rackerhayes last Saturday, but that game was called off 24 hours early when there was no prospect of playing.

The Whites were hoping to include Martin Browne in their squad for the first time since he joined in October from Brixham, only to suffer an injury in a 2nd XV game.

One player Newton won't be seeing again is centre Eddie McGinley, who has thrown his lot in with ambitious Devon Two side Tamar Saracens.

McGinley was with now defunct Plymouth Barbarians before joining Newton in 2012.

The postponement of the Lydney match means the rescheduled Devon Cup semi-final first leg against Brixham, originally postponed from December 21, has to be moved again.

The two legs are now due to be played on February 22 and March 15. Discussions are on-going between the clubs as to which way round the venues will be.

Any further league postponements will take precedence over cup dates.

While the First XV are on the road up the M5, the 2nd XV are also on their travels. They will be hoping to get back to winning ways at Sidmouth following their 24-8 reversal at Ivybridge.

Newton's points came from replacement winger Sam Slingsby (try) and fly-half Sam Poustie (penalty).

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