West Norfolk benefit from a tough learning curve as season comes to a close
Boss Nigel Richardson insists West Norfolk's youngsters can only benefit from what has been a tough season at Gatehouse Lane.
The North Wootton club, ninth in Greene King Eastern Counties Division One, have endured a mixed bag of results during a campaign which has seen them forced into blooding a host of talented teenagers. But as they draw their term to a close tomorrow at third-placed Newmarket, manager Richardson admits the struggles of 2012/13 will only help West in the coming seasons.
He said: 'We knew we were going to be in for a tough season, losing eight players in the summer and having so many changes to the side. Our plans were to consolidate, build for the future, and use it as a learning curve for the youngsters – which we have done, as well as developing them.
'There's been a lot of encouraging signs and I've seen maturity come quite quickly. We're a bit naive at times, but that's to be expected. We've definitely seen improvements. I felt we could have had a little bit more consistency though and there have been sides we could have beaten on the day with a bit more experience.
'But it's a big relief we didn't get pulled into a relegation scrap, especially with Swaffham (Eastern Counties Division Two champions) coming up and having a local derby to look forward to against them.'
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Cristian May, Christian Newton-Walters (both unavailable) and Billy Chilvers (ankle injury) are all missing for the trip to Suffolk.
And Richardson admits the most difficult part of his side's struggles have been dealing with the unavailability of players for away fixtures – something he believes is an issue rearing its head across rugby in the region.
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'Young lads can't travel every week and we're a young side. It's not just a problem at West, it seems to be happening everywhere,' said Richardson.
Elsewhere, in-form Wisbech, who play a level above West, travel to Harlow for their penultimate London North-East Division Three fixture.
The Harecroft Road club sit two points, and just one place, above the relegation zone, but have won three of their last four matches.
Boss Cliff Humphreys said: 'Captain David Wadsley has done a terrific job over the past few weeks rallying his troops but we need players to commit to our last two crucial away games.
'We really do need to get something at Harlow to keep us ahead of the chasing pack. Our league survival is really going to go down to the wire.'