Captain Ollie Bartlett revealed St Ives are striving for more progress after a terrific Midlands Division Two East (South) debut season.

New St Ives signing Tom Dougherty in action for previous club Peterborough Lions. Picture: MICK SUTTERBYNew St Ives signing Tom Dougherty in action for previous club Peterborough Lions. Picture: MICK SUTTERBY

The Bulls finished third in their first attempt at this level in 2018/19 and launch the new campaign with a trip to Leicester Forest this Saturday, 3pm.

Bettering that effort in the coming months would put St Ives firmly in promotion contention but Bartlett has stressed the need for a dash of realism to be applied to the high levels of ambition at Somersham Road.

He said: "Naturally there's an inner belief that we can continue to improve.

"It would be lovely to be top of the table this season, but we also have to be realistic as some strong sides have joined at both ends of the league.

"As always our first target is to ensure we are competitive in every game and we'll see where we are at Christmas having played all 11 other teams. We can then look forward from there."

Bulls have been boosted by the arrival of Tom Dougherty, who played at National League level for Peterborough Lions last season.

Dougherty, who operates as either a fly-half or scrum-half, will also join the club's managerial set-up as skills coach.

You may also want to watch:

He will work with lead coach John Naylor, defence coach Paul Ashbridge, lineout specialist Gaz McLaughlin and scrum guru Simon Fry.

St Ives lost influential Ollie Raine to arm and wrist injuries in pre-season, but Ashbridge and Tommy Newman came through a friendly outing last weekend with no ill effects.

Naylor, also a key figure on the pitch, said: "The enthusiasm the guys have been showing through the long and hot summer has been infectious.

"Tom, Paul and I have kept the boys very active and the improved fitness levels were clear to see in our pre-season matches.

"We train as a club which means all of our teams are developing in the same manner, giving players more belief and an increased incentive to improve."

Bulls will attempt to defend the Hunts & Peterborough Cup crown they won last season when the 2nds also lifted the Cambridgeshire Junior Plate.

Saints again intend to field three senior sides this season with Tom Riches taking over as skipper of the 2nds and Craig Cheetham continuing to steer the third team.

The club also continue to strive for improvement off the pitch with applications for funding to install match-ready floodlights in progress.