RUGBY returns this afternoon (Saturday) after the Christmas break, with all aiming to get 2019 off to a flying start.

Sandown and Shanklin have a tricky game away at mid-table Eastleigh II in the Hampshire Premiership, hampered by the loss from the side of Sam Tyson, Damian Seder and skipper Sam Flux.

In Flux's place as captain will be in-form Zak Chiverton, with Sam Rees replacing the injured Seder in the second row.

Sandown and Shanklin sitting comfortably in second place just four points behind leaders Basingstoke.

The Hurricanes' director of rugby, Damien Marriott, said: "The last time out against Eastleigh, the game was played is such horrible conditions that both sides couldn’t really show off their potential, so it will be interesting to see how good they are.

"Training was intense this week to get the boys prepared for what’s coming. It’s going to be a great game."

In Hampshire 1, Isle of Wight return to action with a short trip to Romsey, both with identical records, but the hosts are two bonus points better off in sixth place.

Isle of Wight coach Alex Augustus said: "We're looking to climb two or three positions by the end of the season, so we need to be winning matches like this one, especially as Romsey are just above us in the table.

"Our matches against Romsey tend to be close affairs, with only a few points in it either way, so I expect nothing different this weekend.

"If we play to potential, we can win — but it won't be easy.

"We've competed well against the two top teams in the league in recent weeks, but have been undone by lapses in concentration, so we need to eliminate those."

The Islanders have no new injury worries going into the game, leaving the backroom team with a election headache.

Those not in the first team squad will be able to turn out for the second team, who face their Romsey counterparts in a friendly match.

Ventnor's Hampshire 1 match at home to Winchester II was called off at 10.30am this morning, with the away side unable to raise a team for the fixture.