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Bury Foxes prove worth in third tier of rugby with top three spot in maiden season

Bury Foxes have ‘proved not only to themselves’ but everyone else that they belong in women’s rugby’s third tier after wrapping up a maiden season in the Women’s Championship 2 Midlands.

They ran the top two sides all the way to the final fixture, going into Sunday’s away trip to fourth-placed Birmingham Moseley just one point off league champions Buckingham Swans and equal on points with second-placed Kenilworth.

A 29-5 defeat in the final match of their campaign saw them finish in third, an ‘incredible’ achievement in their first season since being promoted from NC East 1.

Bury Foxes after their final 2019/20 match of season in first league campaign in the Women's Championship Midlands 2
Bury Foxes after their final 2019/20 match of season in first league campaign in the Women's Championship Midlands 2

Head coach Sam Bragoli-Jones said: “The feeling across the season has been all positive, the ladies have done very very well in their first season at this level.

“They worked really hard and were rewarded with great results and have played so well together.

“I’m extremely proud of them.

“We’ve played each game as it’s come and we have been very competitive throughout the season, which has been a bit of an eye-opener to the squad.

“I think we have been a bit of a surprise to some of the teams in the league as well, but I’m not surprised, I know they are a very talented group of players.

“They have proved not only to themselves that they belong at this level, but also to the teams they have played.

“It’s nice to be able to reflect back across this season and the last few years, at how far they have come.”

Birmingham were quick to get on the scoreboard on Sunday, running through the visitors for two unanswered tries in quick succession.

Players from both teams were unsteady on their feet at the rucks due to sloppy ground conditions but it was Bury who dominated the breakdowns.

Laura Stone’s counter-rucking enabled Bury to consistently turn ball over but the visitors struggled to capitalise on it.

The home team, playing with a strong home advantage, scored a third try to end the half while Bury had one try disallowed.

The second half started better for the Foxes but full back Stephanie Durrant was stretchered off to force the visitors to rejig the line-up with just two substitutes.

Bury then thought they had scored, but Natalie Palmer saw her grounding disallowed.

With Bury sending wave after wave of players against Birmingham, Jasmin Clarke made a dive from the 5m to score their only try.

“We are going to be working hard in pre-season – I will also be doing a bit of a recruitment drive for more strength in depth, I think that will help us continue to be competitive at this high level, “ Bragoli-Jones added.

“The sky is the limit of where this team can go, but we haven’t sat down yet to set our aims.

“I would love to push the ladies to the very top and we, as a club, really believe in their potential.

“But it’s not for me to put a limit on them.”

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