RELEGATED Whitchurch gained some late consolation at the end of a tough campaign by signing off the Midlands 1 West with a 29-10 win at arch rivals Crewe and Nantwich.
Both sides are heading for the drop to Midlands Two North (West) next season, but the Reds could take heart with a display that ensured they finished third bottom, seven points above the weekend’s opposition.
Frustratingly, they were only four points off safety, and can reflect on a number of games in which they allowed points to slip through their grasp.
Victory, which completed a double over the Cheshire side, at least ended a run of eight straight defeats, and will be a welcome boost ahead of the challenge of making a swift return to the league next term.
“It was a good end to a bad season,” admitted coach Scott Sturdy. “It’s frustrating as we showed that, if we can put out a strong side, we are a match for anybody in this league.
“But it was pleasing to end with one of our best performances of the season. The players really turned up and delivered and, had we not dropped the ball twice close to the line, then we could have scored 40 points. We were good value for the win, which shows what we can do.
“Over the season, we can point to the times where we have lost late in the game, and where things haven’t gone for us. But there’s no point looking back – we now need to look forward.”
He added: “We’re disappointed to be going down, but league tables do not lie after 26 games.
“With the number of injuries we had, we were always changing the team which made it difficult, and the commitment from one of two players was not always there. But it is what it is.
“As far as we are concerned, we will be playing in the league below next season, and we will be preparing for that.
“But it’s not all bad, as dropping down a league will provide a good environment for us to take forward some of the promising young players who came into the first team last season.”
The club is interviewing for an assistant coach next week, while it hopes to sign up the majority of last season’s squad – as well as bringing on their home grown players.
However, wing Mike Oakden and No8 Ben Vincent are unlikely to figure next season as they will be abroad.
*For a full rugby round-up, see this week's Whitchurch Herald.