Mon, 29 Apr 2019
NEWBURY Blues head coach Paul Archer admitted his side exceeded expectations as they won the South West 1 East title to secure promotion back to South West Premier.
Blues were relegated last season, but an incredible 25 wins in 26 games ensured they bounced back at the first attempt.
“The season as a whole went the best way we could have expected it to,” said Archer.
“We knew what areas we needed to improve in, but we also had to be aware of teams like Banbury, Marlborough and Royal Wootton Bassett because we knew they could score points and win games.
“We were exceeding expectations [after our fast start], but we knew we had some tough games approaching.”
Archer outlined the 32-22 home win against Marlborough on October 27 as a pivotal moment in the campaign.
He said: “We didn’t just win that game, we dominated it and we thought from then that we could beat the best that the league threw at us.
“I think from then we were in the box seat and getting to Christmas undefeated was huge.”
Blues started the New Year in the same way as they ended it, winning all four of their games in January.
Their only defeat came against Marlborough in February, but Archer didn’t feel too down on the loss.
He said: “There were more positives than drawbacks and I think we learnt a lot about ourselves and it was pleasing because we nearly won that game when we shouldn’t have been in it.
“The belief that came out of that game was incredible and it wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all that we lost.”
Archer added: “Both Harvey North and Josh Winfield scored over 20 tries each, so it’s great to have players in the team like that.
“But what is really great is that 36 out of the 39 players this season have scored points for us and it shows we have people who can contribute.
“We have danger in all positions and our ability to score points has certainly improved.
“We also wanted to put ownership back into the team. I think the guys are a lot more forthcoming now with their feedback and they’re not shy in saying things – we have a lot of leadership in the team now.”