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Canterbury Rugby Club head coach Matt Corker wants his side competing at the top-end of National League 2 East as they start 2024 at fourth-placed Bury St Edmunds

Head coach Matt Corker wants Canterbury Rugby Club competing at the top-end of National League 2 East in 2024.

They started the new year sixth after a run of five wins out of seven matches.

Dave Irvine – the Canterbury player tore his bicep in last month’s derby win at Tonbridge Juddians. Picture: Phillipa Hilton
Dave Irvine – the Canterbury player tore his bicep in last month’s derby win at Tonbridge Juddians. Picture: Phillipa Hilton

Canterbury visit fourth-placed Bury St Edmunds in a rearranged game - weather-permitting - this Saturday and host frontrunners Esher seven days later.

Corker, whose troops are yet to beat anyone in the top five this term, said: “Our focus is to be right at the top of this league within the next season, so we have to beat the very best teams.

“We have come close over the last few seasons and put in some good performances - but that won’t be enough.

“We need to go and get results.”

Their initial trip to Bury St Edmunds was postponed last month.

“We will be going there full guns blazing to get a win against a very good Bury side, who are doing well at home this season,” said Corker.

“That’s all part of the challenge.”

And should the match go ahead, conditions and the state of the pitch could play a significant part in a potentially gritty affair.

Corker said: “These are the games that can define your season on the road when the weather is more challenging.

“Actually being able to still get the job done and come away with the points is really important.

“It seems to be the sort of league this year where everyone is beating everyone. There’s a lot of teams on a similar number of points to what we are on.

“If we want to stay at the top of that pack, we have to make sure we keep adding to our points haul.”

Canterbury returned to training after the festive break on Tuesday night - although their troops had been asked to do sessions themselves in order to maintain their sharpness.

Corker explained: “The expectation was for the boys to do at least four sessions over the two weeks. That will make sure not too much is lost from a conditioning perspective.

“But we know actually for us to get back on the same page, connect on the pitch and reboot some of those catch-pass skills, as well as contact stuff, that’s why it’s important for me as head coach we focus on the right things this week.”

While some players continued to carry knocks ahead of the club’s return to training, only second-row Dave Irvine was definitely due to miss their weekend encounter.

Corker said: “Unfortunately, we lost Dave Irvine against Tonbridge. He tore his bicep so he definitely won’t be involved.

“Outside of that, everyone, potentially, could still make it.

“We will have to see how it all shapes out after they have been to see the physio.”

Kent 1 leaders Canterbury Pilgrims resume their season at second-bottom Cranbrook on Saturday.

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