WOOLSTON Rovers start life in National Conference League Division One against Oulton Raiders at Monk Sports Club on Saturday, kick off 2.30pm.

Billy Sheen’s side achieved promotion from Division Two last season and preparations for competing at the higher level have gone well.

“our opening game is a mouth-watering encounter with an Oulton Raiders side who finished in fifth position last season,” said Sheen.

“It is going to be a step up in intensity and skill but it is something that we will embrace.

“The lads have put in a lot of hard work over the pre-season period and are hoping that will stand them in good stead over the coming months.”

Rovers go into the league campaign on the back of a 28-26 defeat to arch-rivals Crosfields in the Stuart Middleton Foundation Warrington Cup Final.

“We had a good hit-out last weekend against Crosfields and despite going down narrowly there were plenty of positives for us to take from the game that will help us this coming Saturday,” said Sheen.

“We have a few new faces down at the club that will bolster our options and create plenty of competition for places.”

Soap, who won the cup for the third year running, start their NCL Division One campaign on Saturday at home to Skirlaugh, kick-off 2.30pm.

Crosfields ran out 34-22 victors when the sides last met in 2023, with the Yorkshire outfit going on to finish two places higher in the table than Soap in sixth spot.

Meanwhile, Rovers’ second side return to the field on Saturday with an away trip to Haydock in the North West Men’s League Shield preliminary round, kick off 2.30pm at King George V Playing Fields.

Newly appointed player-coach Craig Woolvine is looking forward to his first game in charge.

He said: “It is a new beginning for us after having to withdraw from the league midway through last season.

“We have regrouped and hopefully we can get back out on the field and get some positive results.

“It isn’t all going to change overnight so we will need to be patient. Haydock are themselves returning to the fold so it is a chance for both sides to get some much needed game time.”