Now top four place vital in last match to stay in top flight
Midland League Division 1, Round 3 - Alexander Stadium, Sunday, July 3: Rugby & Northampton AC were denied a third place finish in the third match of the season when cruel disqualifications in both the men’s and women’s 4 x 400m relays denied pushed them down to fifth place, by the slenderest of margins.
This leaves the team in fourth place overall with just one fixture remaining at Stoke on August 7, where any two from five teams could face relegation, so R&N need to finish in the top four to guarantee their place in the top flight.
The match itself was a much higher standard than the previous two rounds with a very strong Birchfield squad for their home match. R&N were heavily impacted by holidays and injuries to some key athletes which meant that the Ladies’ team had a number of gaps in B string events.
The team’s only individual winners were Hayley Murray in the Hammer and Evie Harris-Jenkins in the Javelin whilst the men’s 4x100m stormed to victory as the hosts dropped the baton.
There was only one B string victory for busy Chris Morgan in the Triple Jump, who tackled four events after also having competed in the BAL match at Bracknell the previous day.
The men had a string of second places thanks to Dan George (100m), Clinton Osaba George (200m), Jason Dankyi (Triple Jump) and Kevin Murch (Javelin) whilst their were a string of second and third places in the B string often from athletes taking a second or third event.
For the Ladies Hannah Shepherd was 2nd in the 100m Hurdles as well a brace of 4th places in the Triple Jump and 400m Hurdles, whilst Emily Waugh made a welcome return to track action with a 2nd place in the 3000m and 3rd in the 1500m.
The match was closely fought throughout with several races being decided by hundredths of a second, but at the end the team finished in fifth place with 299.5 points just 1.5 points behind Wolves and four points behind Cannock. Just one more fit athlete would have been enough to bring the team to a comfortable third place and lift them up the league table.
This means that Stoke & Wolves go into the final match in the bottom two places but with the opportunity to save themselves with a top three finish whilst R&N, Bristol & Cannock must avoid finishing in the bottom two on the day in order to stay out of trouble. Birchfield are already certain to win the league.