Oakham RFC stumbled at the final hurdle in their bid for promotion to the top tier of the Midlands East Leagues.
After finishing second in the 2 East (North) table - their highest ever position – they were beaten 30-17 by Huntingdon in the play-off between North and South runners-up on Saturday.
The Oaks are notoriously slow starters and were punished by Huntingdon’s big pack early on, falling 24 points behind in the opening 20 minutes. The Rutlanders’ cause was not helped by yellow cards for Alun Meadows and Tom Burton.
A try scored from a driving maul by James Beanland reduced the arrears with Mark Matthews kicking the conversion.
In the second half, Matthews added a penalty and another conversion after Corey Archard scored a second Oaks try late on but the home side added two penalties and the early points proved too much for the Oaks to overhaul.
“We were slow starting and the side in front of us was high quality,” said skipper Adam Price, reflecting on a highly successful final year at the club’s Showground home.
“The season has been a massive success,” he said. “It’s the best that Oakham have finished and we have so many players pushing for places.
“Perhaps we’re not quite ready to go up but we will build a side with the aim of winning the division next season. We will mount a serious assault because we know it is within our reach.”
Oaks: Adam Price, Alun Meadows, Ryan Corner, James Beanland, Adam Downing, Andrew Wallace, Adam Varley, Ben Turnbull, Joe Lunn, Mark Matthews, Adam Stimson, Tom Armstrong, Tom Burton, James Harrison, Will Armstrong. Reps: Corey Archard, Karwai Cheung, Dave Wiggins.
M-o-M: Tom Armstrong.