The bulk of Rugby’s side has been there and done it all before.
The defending premiers won last season’s RSL-Whitney Cup in style but the challenge this summer is a different one, with new players coming into the side after a number of off-season departures.
Back-to-back losses were suffered in the opening two rounds but all-rounder Aidan Bennewith feels Saturday’s thrilling two-run win over Macquarie can be just what’s needed to kick-start the side’s 2018-19 campaign.
In a fantastic contest at No. 2 Oval, Rugby posted 5-171 batting first and then, in a thrilling finale, restricted the Blues to 9-169 in reply.
“You could see it in the team. It was like winning a semi-final for some of the new fellas,” Bennewith said, having been part of the Rugby side which had won two titles in the past five seasons.
“It’s good they’ve got that winning feeling and hopefully now we can get on a bit of a roll.
“We lost a really close one and a game we thought we should have won in round one, so two close losses in the first three rounds would’t have been good.”
Bennewith was one of the key performers, making 30 before taking 3-26 from his seven overs.
He bowled the 39th over when the Blues needed 13 for victory and after six runs came off his over it was veteran Ben Taylor who bowled the final six deliveries.
He kept things incredibly tight and only allowed four singles to be hit, sparking the Rugby celebrations.
“We were very happy to get away with the win,” Bennewith said.
While the likes of Jordan Moran, Ben Patterson, and James O’Brien have left the club there is still plenty of talent within the Rugby lineup.
Jacob Hill has stepped up and become a vital figure and he was a standout again on Saturday, top-scoring with 61 at the top of the order before opening the bowling and finishing with a miserly 1-22 from eight against a rampant Macquarie top order.
Hill and opening partner Ben Wheeler added a patient 88 for the first wicket, the latter continuing his strong start to the campaign with 51.
That first wicket fell in the 27th over and with quick runs needed Bennewith was promoted to number first drop.
He made 30 and helped lift the run rate while Hill was run out late having opened up after reaching his half century.
“We got to 0-50 in the 20th over but batting the overs out has been our main concern,” Bennewith said.
“Our openers set the platform and then we went a run-a-ball for the second 20 overs.”
The in-form Ricky Medway blasted Macquarie off to a flying start in reply but even he had trouble getting Hill away.
He made 37 before being removed by leg-spinner Adrian Carey, who also knocked over Ryan O’Conner (21) after Hill had dismissed Ed Haylock (26).
Daniel Medway banged 40 to keep the Blues in the hunt but when Bennewith removed both he and Jason Green (17) it allowed Rugby to tighten things up against the lower order.
The spin of both Bennewith and Taylor (2-30 from seven) proved key in the win.
“There’s a lot of talent in the young fellas in our side and three years ago we brought some other young guys in and they’ve now developed,” Bennewith said of his team.
“We’re doing that same thing again now and a couple of wins won’t hurt the confidence.”
Bennewith also had plenty of praise for Hill’s all-round efforts this season.
“He’s a very valuable player. He bowled his eight straight and was very economical and hard to get away, which wast easy considering the way Ricky is hitting them,” he said.
“He’s a big part of our team opening the batting and bowling.”
The loss means Macquarie remains without a win yet this season.