Home draw with Hadleigh sees Newmarket Rugby Club finish third in Greene King IPA Eastern Counties 1 Shield
Newmarket RUFC coach Martyn Wall is pleased with his side’s progression this season, despite narrowly missing out on the chance of promotion, writes Oscar Johnson.
The Scaltback side had hosted second-placed Hadleigh in their final match knowing they had to win to leapfrog them into a position that may result in promotion.
But they came up agonizingly short, drawing 14-14 meaning visiting Hadleigh claimed the runners-up spot in the Greene King IPA Eastern Counties 1 Shield.
The visitors had established a seven point lead by half-time, before a converted try soon after the restart saw their lead doubled. As both players and supporters battled the elements, Hadleigh’s second try kick-started a revival from the home side, who eventually battled back to earn a share of the points.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on potential promotion, head coach Wall praised his players for what he saw as one of their best displays of the campaign.
“It was a missed opportunity, it was frustrating but we played well and it was a very positive performance”, he said.
However, it wasn’t just Saturday’s performance that pleased Wall, as he also explained his joy at the team’s progression during his first season in charge.
“Winning the league we were in before was excellent, and then to finish third in the Shield showed how well we have played. We missed out on bonus points and that is what has ultimately cost us second place.
I think we had about a 75 per cent win rate overall”, he added.
This season’s success provides stark contrast to last term, when Newmarket were relegated after a disappointing run of results. And Wall is already looking ahead to next year.
“The club is in a good place and the team is in a strong position to push for promotion next year. Obviously the aim this year was to win every game which would have meant promotion, but staying in this league means we’re in a good position ahead of next season”, he said.
The club topped Eastern Counties Division 1 West, before joining the winners of other regional leagues in the Shield. While the champions of the Shield are assured promotion, it remains to be seen whether Hadleigh will join them as runners-up.