Beccles Rugby Club will be gunning for promotion in 2019

Beccles on their way to defeat at Norwich Union in their final match before the Christmas break Pict

Beccles on their way to defeat at Norwich Union in their final match before the Christmas break Picture: Russ Clarke - Credit: Archant

Beccles Rugby Club appears to be moving in the right direction again after several years in the doldrums.

The first team were relegated in 2016-17 and then struggled to make an impact at a lower level the following season, finishing well short of an immediate return to London Three Eastern Counties.

But it has been a very different story this time around, with the Bulls going into the festive break leading Eastern Counties IN by four points after winning 10 of their 12 matches so far.

Following a 19-14 defeat at Norwich Union last time out there is still some work to be done to guarantee a top two finish before the league split, with important games coming up against the second teams of Norwich and Wymondham. But it would be big surprise now if Beccles weren’t challenging for promotion in 2019.

“It has been a good season so far, even though we were obviously disappointed to lose our final game of the year,” said captain Leigh Gedney. “It probably says a lot about the progress we have made that the players took it really hard when we got beaten.

“This is a good, competitive league, and you are going to lose the occasional game, but you have just got to put it behind you and bounce back, and that is what we intend to do.”

Although Beccles are well placed, North Walsham Raiders, Norwich Union and Norwich Medics are all breathing down their necks, with just six points separating the top four and Union having a game in hand, so the target when the league campaign resumes at home to Norwich II on January 5 is crystal clear.

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“Some of our rivals are playing each other but we don’t want to be relying on anyone else - we will just be focusing on trying to win our next two games, hopefully with bonus points,” said Gedney. “If we do that we will move on to the next stage, which is obviously the target.”

Following the final Eastern Counties IN games on January 12 the top two will head into a mini league also featuring the leading sides in the West and South Divisions, almost certain to be Newmarket, Cottenham Renegades, Hadleigh and Colchester III. Teams will then play each other home and away in the battle for two promotion spots, although second and third teams won’t be eligible to go up.

Gedney feels his team are well equipped to make an impact in 2019.

“We have got a good mixture of youth and experience and have around 25 players who are more than capable of playing at this level,” he said. “We have also recruited a couple of players from New Zealand (scrum-half Temm Kauri and fly-half Blair Hannam) and they have certainly improved us as a team.

“We have made a lot of progress since last season and now, with a good balance to the team, we are all really looking forward to getting back in action in January.”