Sam Macpherson is wary of improved Saints.

LAST season Rugby Union came within four wickets of a Bathurst District Cricket Association premiership, but skipper Sam Macpherson knows 2017-18 will present a new set of challenges.

BACK TO THE CREASE: James Tristram impressed with the ball for Rugby last season and will be important to the Bulldogs once again this summer. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

BACK TO THE CREASE: James Tristram impressed with the ball for Rugby last season and will be important to the Bulldogs once again this summer. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

Under Macpherson’s guidance, last season Rugby made it to the the grand final as it chased a top grade premiership for the first time since 1998-99.

While Bathurst City ultimately won the premiership, Bulldogs showed that they now have to be considered a genuine threat.

Two batsmen – Ryan Peacock and Imran Qureshi – ranked in the top five leading run scorers while James Tristram was in the top 10 wicket takers with 20 scalps.

This Saturday the Bulldogs will begin their mission to go one better than last season when hosting St Pat’s Old Boys at Brooke Moore Oval.

The Saints missed last year’s finals series and were all out for 130 when last meeting Bulldogs in a 50-overs-aside match.

Still, Macpherson is taking nothing for granted and believes the Saints will be big improvers this season.

“We’re going into this weekend’s game a bit under strength, but we still have the likes of Ryan Peacock and Imran Qureshi who can do the job with the bat and a mix of experience and youth with potential to do the work with the ball,” he said.

“I’m backing Pat’s to be very strong this year compared to their recent years and I dare say it will be a tough first up match against them this Saturday.”

Play will commence at 1.30pm.