RELENTLESS rain that has battered parts of the south-west in recent weeks has impacted more than just Royal Wootton Bassett’s regular 2pm South West One (East) kick-off slot.

Coach Alan Low has replicated the regular weekend conditions in training on Tuesday and Thursday nights by using greased up old balls and medicine balls.

The Bassett boss is adamant that adding both mentioned elements to his side’s training schedule can aid players’ ball handling qualities – particularly with further rain forecast ahead of Saturday’s trip to division newcomers Beaconsfield.

Ultimately, handling errors hurt Bassett in last week’s 6-6 draw against Banbury.

Unlike the Premiership, the region’s second tier players have no such luxury of using a dry ball after every set-piece.

Therefore, some adaptation to conditions is necessary.

Low said: “I work with Tom Dunn (Bath, hooker), he was asked at a recent event how he throws a wet ball. He didn’t know what to say – he has a dry ball every time he throws it.

“We have to do things differently, and we prepare for a wet game when the forecast is poor.

“A bit of rain helps speed a game of football up.

“For rugby, this recent rain has slowed the game down. Pitches are heavier, and they’re under more stress.

“Handling errors are greater at this level. We don’t have the luxury of a normal grippy Gilbert ball at our level.”

Beaconsfield have proven themselves to be occasional spoilers this term.

Following promotion last season, the Buckinghamshire outfit has won three out of nine games since stepping up to South West One (East).

Those wins all took place at home – namely to Chippenham, Windsor and Trowbridge.

With conditions again set to play a key role in the game’s outcome, Low warned his players with caution ahead of kick-off.

He added: “We can only see their results, but they’ve had some strong results at home by scoring a lot of points.

“We’re going to have to be on our guard and be back to playing the rugby we know we can play.

“For us, it starts with our defence. To limit Banbury – the division’s highest scorers – to only six points and few chances was excellent.”

Elsewhere this weekend, in-form Swindon go in search of their fifth successive win when they travel to Combe Down in Southern Counties South.

Swindon College Old Boys are also on the road – they visit second placed Grove.

In Dorset and Wilts North One, Bassett 2s will look to build on their exceptional win against Frome 2s last weekend when travelling to mid-table Sutton Benger.