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Haverhill in waiting game for news of final league standings

Haverhill Rugby Club may have wrapped up their league games, but they still have to play a waiting game to confirm promotion back to Eastern Counties Greene King 1 West.

The Eastern Counties Greene King 2 West team went into Saturday’s game in third position in the league, but hosting the team a place above them in St Ives (Midlands) II and with a chance to claim second position.

They succeeded, with a 20-8 victory in their final game of the 2018/19 season to climb above their defeated opposition and into a top two promotion-qualifying position.

Rugby Haverhill & District v St Ives II Picture Mark Westley. (8319711)
Rugby Haverhill & District v St Ives II Picture Mark Westley. (8319711)

But, with an investigation ongoing into top club Shelford IV – with as yet unknown potential consequences for the league standings – plus confirmation from Eastern Counties chairman Alasdair Bovaird that the club’s fourth string are not eligible for promotion as Shelford III sit in the league above; the final standings are far from certain.

Bovaird said: “Eastern Counties Rugby Union cannot comment on a disciplinary process which is in the middle of being adjudicated.

“Issues of promotion and relegation will not be determined until after the completion of the season at the end of April, at which point they will be discussed with the clubs concerned.

“The normal expectation is that the top two teams would be promoted and the bottom two in the league above would be relegated but this might be adjusted in the light of the wishes of the clubs concerned.”

Rugby Haverhill & District v St Ives II Picture Mark Westley. (8319712)
Rugby Haverhill & District v St Ives II Picture Mark Westley. (8319712)

He explained that this could see the team that finish in third position, currently Mildenhall & Red Lodge, brought into promotion consideration.

But Haverhill believe that, were the accusations against Shelford upheld, Mildenhall would go above them and claim second – or even the league title.

“We didn’t get the bonus point (in the final game) which is disappointing,” captain Adam Hunt said.

“Unfortunately we were so close to it with the last sprint of the game, but it didn’t happen.

“So we can’t win the league now, but I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen next to be honest.

“But it’s all about looking at the positives from this year, and there’s been plenty.

“Last year was such a negative and the atmosphere was so negative up here, but this year has been completely different.

Rugby Haverhill & District v St Ives II Picture Mark Westley. (8319715)
Rugby Haverhill & District v St Ives II Picture Mark Westley. (8319715)

“We’ve worked on building the spirits high and it has genuinely been a pleasure playing for the club this season.

“We’ve had more and more interest in playing too, and hats off to everyone who has played this year; none of us are getting any younger and, although we do have some youngsters coming through, not enough.

“We’ve struggled with games being called off and postponed since beating Mildenhall (February 16). So it’s massive, absolutely massive, to win the last game of the season and play well.”

They got off to a brilliant start, Hunt kicking three points from a penalty before George Foley touched down for an early 8-0 lead.

Stewart Hunt was driven over by his pack after some strong build-up play in the 22, for a 13-3 half-time lead.

St Ives came out the stronger for the second half but Haverhill kept them from scoring until the 72nd minute, before Foley touched down for his second and the team’s third score in the 76th minute.

Head coach Steve Bowak added: “We need to consolidate a lot more and build on this winning experience, something we didn’t have last season.

“But I couldn’t be prouder of the boys, they have been absolutely fantastic.

“We’ve had some serious injuries this season and have played some hard games with some deficits in skill levels, but the commitment has more than made up for that and the boys have been brilliant.

“We’ve got the Rugby World Cup this year and that always helps recruitment so next season is already looking positive, whichever division we end up playing in.”

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