EXPERIENCED players Casey Morgan and Gavin Oates have helped Ross-on-Wye make a solid start to life in Gloucestershire 1 as they look at another promotion battle.

After an unbeaten season last year in cup and league competitions many expected Ross to find this season's league rivals a tougher prospect.

However, a mix of youth and experienced players look to have blended well again this term winning six of their opening seven matches.

Chairman Ian Phillips said that despite the wins the matches have been much closer this season.

"I was a bit surprised by our start as I knew at the beginning we had a few players injured," said Phillips.

"I didn't think we would get the best of starts so to find ourselves where we are is very pleasing.

"It's looking good for us and we should be there or there about on this run.

"I know it's early days to start thinking about promotion again but it is exciting."

Phillips feared that they might miss scrum half Marcus Barnard this year, who scored over 40 tries for the club, before moving away from the area in the summer.

However, he says that Morgan and Oates have helped to keep the momentum going this term.

"They have shown their experience, grit and pure determination to drag the younger boys up with them," added Phillips.

Oates scored three tries in their 31-7 win over Old Elizabethans last Saturday playing at number eight.

The Herefordshire side didn't have things all their own way and had to defend for extensive periods in the first half as they were level at half-time.

However, in the second half Ross took their chances and secured the victory.

"Oates has always been a quality player but he has put his body on the line in the last two or three years," added Phillips.