The Bury Foxes suffered heartbreak in the semi finals of the Women’s Intermediate Cup, but head coach Andy Marshall believes pride not disappointment should be the legacy.
The women’s rugby team are only in their second season of competitive matches and have already reached the last four of a nationwide competition on their first attempt.
And they very nearly made it to the final, as they led until the last play, which saw opponents Kenilworth score a try after the clock had passed 80 minutes to dramatically win 29-24.
But it is in the progress and performances of the Foxes, according to Marshall, that indicates even more to come in future seasons.
He said: “I feel we actually deserved to win, but they pulled off a great comeback to make the final. The team were absolutely gutted at the full-time whistle, it’s a very cruel way to go out of a competition.
“They were so disappointed but I think quickly came to realise that they should be proud of what they achieved.
“They know it was massive to make a semi-final within two years of entering the competition, they have really grabbed it with both hands. They have done brilliantly.”
Kenilworth opened the scoring with a well-worked converted try as they began the stronger and more organised side.
But the score seemed to galvanise the visitors who dominated from that point, with youngster Jas Clarke dancing through the defence for Bury’s first points, well converted by Danni Lee.
The Foxes’ EJ Stearn then intercepted a pass to sprint 40 metres for a try, although Lee could not find the extras.
Bury had multiple chances they allowed to go begging as they enjoyed huge swathes of the first half possession before, against the run of play, Kenilworth scored to take them in to half-time at 12-12.
Lee was the first to add points, for Bury, in the second half as both teams searched for breakthroughs before Sinead Collins quickly racked up a further try to leave the side in control at 24-12.
But Kenilworth refused to give in with a home crowd watching and, with less than 10 minutes to go, they reduced the deficit to seven points with an unconverted try.
Experience and a string of penalties left Bury on the back foot, with the home side taking advantage as they scored another to leave the Foxes with a slim two-point lead.
And, with the clock having struck 80 minutes, Kenilworth inflicted heartbreak as they kept the ball alive long enough to add a converted try and book their place in the final.
Marshall, however, said they hope to set up a ‘revenge meeting’ in a few weeks, if they can make the play-offs of the Women’s National Challenge East One with victory in their final league game.
They need to take a win by more than 90 points but, Marshall has said, it is ‘within the realms of possibility’.