TOM HEEKS is confident that Drifters will not be the whipping boys of Southern Counties North next season after securing their promotion.

Drifters will finish as runners-up in the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Premier, behind winners Swindon College Old Boys, after a 52-14 win at Crowthorne on Saturday.

The Farnham Common club are unbeaten at home this season and are the only team to have beaten Swindon, and Heeks insists they will be competitive next term.

“The thought of going to places like Beaconsfield is quite exciting and really challenging,” the head coach told the Observer. “There are a lot of local derbies to look forward to.

“All at Drifters are very pleased to be back and, as we showed against Swindon, we will be competitive.

“We need to make sure One Pin Lane is an incredibly tough place to play, then go and have some fun on away days.”

On winning promotion, Heeks said: “It meant quite a lot to the club not to stick around in that league (BBO Premier) for very long and get back to playing competitive rugby.

“We didn’t want to speak too much before Christmas because we knew we had a lot of work to do.

“With the exception of Swindon, we knew we were the second best team in the league and it was just about delivering what we were capable of.

“We needed to prove to ourselves, the league, and the league above that we are not whipping boys, but we’re competitive and a difficult team to beat.”

He added: “We played our game on Saturday and spent more time waiting for the South West One East results to come in rather than drinking. We want to see who might be coming down but, whoever it is, it will be fun.

Slough Observer:

PHOTO: Tom Heeks: “It meant quite a lot to the club not to stick around in that league (BBO Premier) for very long and get back to playing competitive rugby.

“I played all my minis and junior rugby at Windsor, and one senior season, so would quite like to play them, but it would be a shame for them to be relegated.

Adam Kalinowski, Matt Brown, Olly Ashton, John Cooper, Danny Horwood and Callum Heppner-Logan all scored tries for Drifters in the first half at Crowthorne. Brown booted four of his six conversion attempts.

In the second half, Heppner-Logan and Stuart Ashton crossed the whitewash, with Brown adding the extras.

“We led 38-0 at half-time and it could have been a bit more,” said Heeks. “Crowthorne got the hairdryer treatment from their manager at the break and we could certainly hear him.

"It was certainly very close in the second half and Crowthorne did themselves a bit of justice by playing much better.

"We ended with 13 players because of a yellow card and injury which was a good challenge, and I thought they dealt with it pretty well."

Drifters travel to third-placed Didcot this Saturday (3pm).

Heeks continued: "To do it (promotion) with three games left gives us quite a bit of flexibility.

"We're starting to plan pre-season already with a lot of young players coming through. We will get them some game time, some have not had a lot of men’s experience. We will certainly make sure everyone has had some first team rugby.

"There will be a few enforced changes, injuries that might have made us nervous had they happened before we secured promotion, but it gives us the opportunity to blood new players.

"We would like to go and win at Didcot after the draw at our place."