Preview: Saints VS Sharks

This SUNDAY the Oxford Saints host the Cornish Sharks in week 1 of the Southern Football Conference West (SFCW).

The fixture will see the Saints christen their new home venue at Tilsley Park, a sports and athletics club which has recently undergone massive renovations. The game this weekend will be the first official event using the new facilities, with teams taking to a brand new 4G pitch which was completed in recent weeks.

Tilsley Park manager Matt Walsh has been asked to perform the pre-game coin toss as our special guest, in recognition of his efforts and support in getting American Football hosted at this great location.

After months of planning, visits and negotiations, we are ready to show our players and fans the fruit of our labour. The majority of the Saints players and staff will be visiting Tilsley Park for the first time.

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Over the years Oxford has played against the Cornish Sharks many times and there is a long-standing rivalry between our clubs, with games always being competitive and hard hitting. This makes the Sharks a perfect opponent to begin our season and we look forward to welcoming them as our first contest of 2016.

Oxford Saints Chairman Andrew Peart has been instrumental in making this change in his first year in the position.

Peart commented:

“We go into our first regular season game of 2016 with a strong sense of excitement, confidence and humility. Excitement, as we play our first game at the fantastic Tilsley Park facility. Confidence, due to an excellent preseason including valuable matches against top quality opponents – and humility, because the first two mean nothing unless we deliver on our potential against Cornwall on Sunday.”

“We’re extremely lucky at the Saints to have a dedicated and passionate fan base. This first game of the season is all about them. The coaching staff, committee and players have worked extremely hard in the offseason to build the sort of organisation that our supporters can be proud of.”

“We firmly believe we have everything in place to achieve this and we intend to start on Sunday. Every point we score, every tackle we make & every yard we gain is a thank you to you & your support”

“Things now get serious – see you at Tilsley!”

With lots of new players on a competitive roster, the Saints coaching staff have confirmed the 60 players they have chosen to represent the team in this opening game. Last weekend the Saints travelled to take on the Birmingham Bulls in a preseason contest and performed well against the higher-division opponent.

Rookie quarterback Destin Maulding led the team to a 24-16 win with a touchdown pass on the opening drive to James Walter marking his first score in a UK game (albeit preseason). Later in the game he ran in a touchdown himself and then handed the ball off to James Walter on the ground for a further score.

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Rookie kicker Sam Fielden also had a great start to the year and was successful in all of his first extra point kicks and a field goal, to go alongside strong kicking on kick-off.

With two preseason games in the books against the Bury Saints and the Birmingham Bulls, the team has completed a long preseason which began with rookie sessions in November and weekly training for the whole team from 3rd January.

Starting earlier than many clubs, the Saints are hopeful that the extra preparation and the effort to play against two higher ranked teams for preseason contests will return dividends as the regular season begins.

We hope to see you at Tilsley Park for our season opener, kick-off is 14:30pm and entry is FREE.

If you can’t make this game, be sure to check out our full 2016 schedule for further dates.

You can also follow us on twitter and facebook to receive score updates and other team news.

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