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Cup exit does not dampen spirits of cunning Foxes’ push for promotion

It was a ‘bit of a shame’ that Bury Foxes fell to a narrow 19-14 home loss in the last 32 of the Women’s Intermediate Cup.

But, despite exiting the national competition on Sunday to Old Albanians, Foxes’ chair Lucy Martin said it did not really dampen the spirits of a team who remain unbeaten in the Women’s NC East 1.

The side went into the fixture understanding that they were the underdogs, hosting the higher-league side knowing that they would need to produce their best to have any chance of progressing in the cup.

Bury Foxes end 2018 in Women's NC East 1 league unbeaten (6128351)
Bury Foxes end 2018 in Women's NC East 1 league unbeaten (6128351)

But it also provided a ‘win-win’ situation for the GK IPA Haberden residents, to test the waters of the standard of the Women’s Championship South East 2, against the league leaders.

The Foxes sit 13 points clear at the top of the NC East 1 after seven (of 12) fixtures, having won all of their matches so far, including a four-try winning bonus point from each encounter.

The team, who currently play at Level 4 on the national league structure, have targeted promotion to Old Albanians’ league next season but were unsure of what to expect.

“We may have lost, which is a bit of a shame” Martin said. “But we proved we can compete against the team sitting at the top of the league above.

“So that’s actually really heartening, we lost by only five points and we’re the league below.

“It definitely suggests we have the ability to play at that level and it gave us confidence to know we are good enough to go up – there was that concern that we weren’t ready.

“Last season we missed out on promotion in the final game, we couldn’t play our final game and it cost us, so going up has been our aim from the outset.

“It’s maybe been a bit of a blessing in disguise actually, because we are even better this season, we’ve had another season together and playing, and are more prepared for life in a higher league.”

Their results back this up, recording a 60-5 home victory over Lakenham Hewett in their final league game of the year on December 9.

The Foxes showed their strength early on with a solid scrum and strong tackles.

The solidity of the pack gave a strong grounding for the team to work off, with the backs able to make ground with darting runs and show their handling skills.

Backs Robyn Gordon and Georgie Palmer both scored to put Bury ahead.

Lakenham then fought back, but were rigorously knocked back by a solid defence before Foxes’ Abz Kegge then added another score for the home team.

Foxes secured the bonus-point try before half-time, via Lucy Kerr, before Lakenham got on the board at the start of the second half to make it 28-5.

The rest of the game belonged to the unbeaten home side, with Steph Hanratty (2), Palmer, Em Gattlin and Florence Wilkinson all adding tries.

The Bury Foxes will return to league action on January 6.

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