SOUTHEND Saxons face a second successive Essex derby when they head to Thurrock in London One North tomorrow.

Saxons were beaten 27-15 by Colchester on the opening day of the season.

And Southend's back row Jake O'Kill is expecting another tricky test this weekend.

"In terms of this week’s fixture we are expecting a tough attritional game as Thurrock of old never gave an inch to anyone," said O'Kill.

"But hopefully we can concentrate on our game and play our way."

Southend fought hard last time out.

And, despite the final score-line, O'Kill also took heart from Southend's opening encounter, "Colchester put out their strongest team for a number of years and knowing a handful of their players their expectations are to finish in the top two," said O'Kill.

"I feel they’ve got a good chance of this, especially as they’ve recruited well.

"We were pleased with a number of areas in our game but have some clear areas to work on and improve."

But, having seen the whole of last season wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, O'Kill is relishing Saxons' return to action.

"It was terrific to be back out their playing," said O'Kill.

"With the last 18 months being what they have been for everyone; it was another huge step back towards a world we know and love.

"While Saturday was not the result we wanted, I thought for our first first team fixture in 18 months the boys put a solid shift in."

And O'Kill also took pleasure from some of the individual displays on show.

"What was pleasing was seeing different squad members perform, especially Callum Smith at 13 who showed his class throughout," said O'Kill.

"Jac Sexton also had a terrific game at 15 making excellent choices and putting in some great kicks.”

But O’Kill is keen for Southend to stay on the pitch and to keep on improving.

“As far as hopes for the season go, first of all it is to simply complete the season with Covid having as little role as necessary,” said O’Kill.

“Next it is simply to build on each week’s performance and to get into that top part of the table to make it an exciting end to the year for everyone at the club.”