Keynsham have been on a sharp learning curve from the word go in their first sea- son back in South West One.
It’s 13 seasons since the Crown Field outfit were last in South West One – and there are no survivors of that last incarnation still playing first XV rugby.
The side named to play Matson yesterday only included two players aged 30 or more and had an average age of just 23.
Captain Jack Weston said a young side sprinkled with ex-colts is learning fast and more than living up to expectations.
“Our aim when we came up was to finish top six, top half at least, not settle for survival,” said Weston.
“We lost our first two games and learned pretty quickly that South West One is a step up from Western Counties North.
“The pace and physicality of the games is the big step-up from what we were used to.
“And you cannot afford to switch off for a minute and expect to get away with it.
“Switch off in Western Counties North and you could get away with it. In South West One you get punished.”
South West One places new demands on players, such as treks to rugby out-posts such as Launceston to play the Cornish All Blacks, Okehampton, Bideford and Teignmouth.
The trips are a test, as are opponents hardened to playing at Level Six week in and week out.
Weston feels his young side is more than holding its own, despite inevitable setbacks along the way.
“The only time we have been outplayed all season was by the University of Exeter (50-12) and they are top of the table,” said Weston.
“In every other game we have been competitive and of the games we have lost there are a couple – Drybrook and Teignmouth – where we were a score away from winning.”
Going into the second half of the sea- son, Weston remains confident a top-half finish is plausible in what is a tight division with just 10 points between Keynsham (8th) and second bottom Matson (13th).
“It’s tight, but a good January could se- cure the place we are aiming for,” he said. The January schedule is Newent (3rd) away followed by North Petherton (home), Okehampton (away) and Teignmouth