WHILE other clubs are scratching their heads at a free weekend so early in the season, Banbury are welcoming a Saturday off.

After beginning the South West 1 East campaign with three straight victories, Bulls looked to have picked up where they left off last year when they reached the play-offs.

But, not helped by having a large number of first team players either injured or unavailable – the count was 12 at the weekend – the wheels have come off in recent weeks.

Three defeats in a row has left Banbury already 15 points adrift of early leaders Newbury Blues, who proved too strong for Matt Goode’s side a fortnight ago.

While a break six weeks into the season is often a cause of frustration for the head coach, this free weekend is welcomed.

“It’s come at a perfect time,” said Goode.

“We had Tuesday night off from training to let the boys rest up.

“I often wonder at the beginning of the season why we have an early break, but I definitely see it now.

“Last year we managed little injuries very well, we didn’t have any serious ones, we rode our luck, and this year it’s come back to hurt us.

“But it’s not dampened our spirits and we’re looking to push on.”

Just a week after winger Dan Kirwin was taken to hospital with a broken wrist, an ambulance was needed again just three minutes into Banbury’s defeat at Old Centralians last Saturday.

An already congested treatment room was made busier following confirmation Jimmy Manley had broken his fibula and dislocated an ankle.

The centre is beginning his recovery after undergoing an operation on Monday and Bulls will support their player, who is a self-employed tree surgeon, through his injury.

Goode said: “The club will help him as much as we can to make sure he is comfortable through the next couple of months. The boys are putting some money together to make sure his mortgage is paid and things like that.

“When it rains it pours, hopefully we will have a drought now and there will be no more injuries.”