WITH the competitive season at the halfway stage, Bridgwater & Albion director of rugby Geoff Sluman shared his thoughts on how the team has performed so far in the 2019/20 campaign, writes Richard Walsh.

“The performance is quite a difficult one to sum up in a few words,” he said.

“Of course the first team is the shop window for the club but I am always quick to point out that the club is about more than the 1st XV.

“We have our 2nd XV, our ladies team and a booming youth section too.

“The 1st XV has played 13 of 24 league matches, and we sit in seventh place in South West 1 West, having won seven and lost six.

“If you include the cup game we have won eight, so we are on the right side of where we want to be.

“The halfway point last season was 13 games but because St Ives have sadly disbanded during the season we will play fewer games this year.

“Last season, after 13 games we had earned 38 league points; this season we have 36 points.

“After 12 games last season we were on 33 points with this season on 32 points.

“On the face of it you would say we are slightly behind, by one or two points, but that ignores some key facts.

“The league is definitely more competitive this year, so to be on roughly the same points in a more competitive league is doing OK.

“Last season also saw the introduction of our new coaching team and some believe that there is a bit of a boost by doing that, so again if we are roughly in the same position without that then we are doing OK.

“I have said OK and not good because we do not look to pluck comfort out of the statistics.

“We also have to conclude we have not yet achieved one of our two main objectives which is to be more consistent in our performances.

“We have had glimpses of success but have not yet achieved what we wanted.

“Where it has worked has been in our defensive performances, but we have had some inconsistent attacking displays meaning we have lost some games that we really should have won.

“So still plenty to work on and more we can do to improve.”

Sluman continued: “Another pleasing aspect and a vitally important one in achieving more consistency is to develop the depth of the squad.

“Again we have worked on a good mixture of activity for that in having some young but experienced players achieve some 1st XV appearance milestones.

“Ryan Barnett and Will Monro have achieved 50 appearances each.

“In the first game of the season George Sluman achieved 75 appearances, shortly followed on 75 by Lewis Phillips.

“Tom Fournier d’Able and Ethan Trebble-Westlake have both achieved 100 first team appearances.

“This is in addition to Stuart Heal on 150, Matt Ranson with 225 and of course Dan Kemmish achieving over 400 first team appearances.

“Additionally we have had good players making their 1st XV debuts in the first half of the season, with Tom Hopkins, Simon Honey, Tim Blades, Graham Slorance, Eoghan Westhaff, Dylan Evans and Dom Thorne all starting for the first time.

“We know it is the right thing to continue to develop the guys that have been with us for a while, and introducing some new talent to the group.

“Our second main objective was to develop our 2nd XV.

“I am a strong believer that to have a successful 1st XV you need a successful 2nd XV.

“I am pleased to say that they have enjoyed a successful first half of the season, currently occupying second spot in the Somerset 1 table.

“Any of the guys playing in the 2nds are capable of playing for the 1st XV and doing very well too.

“Our ladies team is developing at tremendous pace and they just enjoy what they do so much, while the youth section just continues to do amazingly well, too.

“The enthusiasm of the children is only matched by the energy of the volunteer helpers who control over 200 children every Sunday morning.”

Sluman also talked about the success of the club off the pitch.

“Off the pitch, which is a vitally important area for the club, we have not been standing still either, with refurbished clubhouse and newly decorated bars.

“Existing sponsor numbers have been bolstered by some returning sponsors and some new sponsors too.

“We have also restructured our committees, which had not been reviewed for many years, so that it now better reflects the needs of the club going into 2020.

“To sum up, our players are gaining experience and we are introducing new talent to the group.

“All of the players are tremendously keen to improve and have developed a great ethic; we are all really looking forward to 2020.”

Seventh-placed Albion host Cleve, who sit 11th, at College Way this coming Saturday.

North Petherton - ninth in the South West 1 West table with six wins and seven defeats so far - return to action with a home game against second-placed Hornets at Beggars Brook on Saturday.