WITHYCOMBE are making no bold predictions at the start of the new season after their disappointments last term.
Withies won 11 out of 12 games at the end of the 2011/12 campaign to earn the title of promotion candidates, but a trying season followed as they finished half-way down the table.
Coach Trevor Harris left before the season's end to be replaced by Mark Tomlinson, with Glen Channing as his player-assistant coach.
Tomlinson's CV includes Sidmouth, Exmouth, Crediton and Okehampton, as well as time in the women's game coaching England students.
Channing was with Sidmouth last season, largely in a playing role having been player-coach at Honiton the year before.
The new regime has assembled a squad with some familiar names to Withy fans.
George Toomey – son of former wingman Rob – has joined the club, as has former Exmouth man Joe Parkin.
Connor Gilby, a flanker at Sidmouth, has switched allegiance, while Will Cole – part of the rugby project at Bicton – adds strength to the front row.
Jon Axon – the 6ft 6ins forward who featured for Withies during the 1990s – was seen at training and, with Ben Tuckett now living outside Devon, his reappearance is well-timed.
Nigel Symons, the director of rugby, is seldom shy with his opinions but was more considered this time.
"The new coaches have been working them hard and numbers have been good at training," said Symons.
"Top-five is where we would like to see ourselves, but there are a lot of new faces and it is going to take time to bed in."
Withycombe go to old rivals Crediton in their first game, with the Mid Devon side hoping for better this time round.
Kirton narrowly avoided relegation last season having replaced duo Phil Bye and Brian Sherrell with Chris Lee.
Honiton continue to pick themselves up after the disappointment of relegation with a trip to Newquay.
The Lacemen drew 24-24 with Sidmouth in the annual Dave Turner Cup game on Saturday.
"That sort of result against a team two divisions higher is very encouraging," said assistant coach Jeremy Rice.
"We were 19-3 up at one stage, although whether that says more about where Sidmouth are than ourselves I am not sure."
Honiton continue to be coached by Callum Hill. There have been no significant player movements this summer, although Ollie Rice is back playing after a shoulder injury.
Tiverton were a distant third behind Teignmouth and St Ives last season – and hope to go one better this term.
The season starts on Saturday with a trip to Hayle, and Tiverton are looking in good shape.
The 75-5 pre-season win over South Molton was not a huge surprise, but beating Torquay Athletic from the next division up 35-5 certainly was.
A coaching shake-up has seen Wayne Sprangle and Glenn Crocker join in coaching capacities, while new head coach and former player Martin Oxland – he took over from Dave Maddick, who has gone upstairs to coaching director – is confident, despite no new signings.
"I think it is no secret that the aspirations of the club and the people the club have brought in – like Wayne, for example – are to get the club back up to Western Counties West," he said.
"That is what we are aiming for but it is going to be difficult because it is not an easy league.
"We have not really attracted any new players as such, so I think the key will be the potential availability of players.
"From what I have gathered from Dave Maddick, he was trying to get the consistency of availability up throughout the season, and that is what we will be working on.
"We definitely already have the potential to be successful here with the players that we have if we can get them playing every week."
The anticipated return of Liam Lewis and Sam Smith from cricket duties will only enhance the Tiverton line-up.
The University of Exeter have been handed a tough start to the season – away Pirates Amateurs.
Penzance is as far as you can go in the Cornwall & Devon League, which the student side have reached after two successive promotions.
Director of rugby Keith Fleming said he does not want to see that rise through the divisions end just yet.
"It may be we have reached our level this season – that we will have to see," said Fleming.
"Logistically, we could cope with the commitment in the Western Counties division if we can get there, which will be our aim."
Every new season brings a fresh crop of players into the university, and some sorting out for Fleming and the coaches.
"We haven't played any trial matches so the first few games will be sorting out what we have got and where we have got them," said Fleming.
Utility back Warren Harding, a goal-kicking try scorer, is among those to have left.
"He could play anywhere from nine to 15 and did a great job and will be missed," said Fleming.
Exeter Saracens should have some new faces on parade when they visit Veor in their opener.
Among them are Andrew Clarke, a full-back who has played in New Zealand, scrum-half Scott Simpson, David Stainer-Smith and Tom Peters, David Bamber and rugby league convert Ed Powell.
Dan Dimoline and James Boult have left.
Saracens crashed out of Western Counties West with Honiton at the end of last season, but in their diamond jubilee year are hoping to bounce back.