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Saints top WR5s Championship after three hard-earned wins

Saints Wheelchair Rugby continued their march towards the WR5s Premiership, as three wins from four matches over the weekend saw them maintain their lead in the Championship division.

After a restructuring of the leagues over the extended break caused by the pandemic saw the Premiership reduced to five sides, Saints Wheelchair Rugby find themselves tackling the Championship in 2021 – but coach Jamie Higgins is hopeful his charges will bounce straight back at the first attempt.

October’s opening round of matches saw Saints record a clean sweep of four wins from as many games, and on Sunday the team returned to Stoke Mandeville Stadium to lock horns with Coventry Stampede, Endeavour Punishers, Team Solent Sharks and Northeast Barbarians.

It was an inauspicious start for Saints in their opening clash – a local derby against Coventry – as some team errors saw the side slip four tries down inside the opening five minutes, but after a coaches’ time out Northampton arrested that slide and eventually prevailed 18-17 thanks to a dramatic try from skipper Gerry McCrory with just three seconds remaining of a two-minute extra-time period.

The Punishers were next up for Saints, and this proved to be a much more straightforward assignment as the side refocused and – courtesy of a series of turnovers and strong attacking play – claimed a 20-4 win.

The clash against Solent however saw Northampton handed their first defeat of this season. Early errors against proved costly as Saints conceded a six-point lead, and this time the side could not claw back the deficit as they went down 20-14.

But the team picked themselves back up to beat the Barbarians 17-11 in their final match of the round, with Sunday’s results leaving Saints with seven wins from eight matches played and four points clear at the Championship summit ahead of the third and final round of fixtures on Sunday 28 November.

“This was a day of really mixed emotions for us,” said Higgins. “The team worked hard throughout some very tough battles on court, but accepted that we made errors and that we have plenty of areas to work on ahead of the final weekend of matches.

“However, while we were disappointed with some facets of our performance, to win seven matches from eight played is still a fantastic record.”

Jamie Higgins, Saints Wheelchair Rugby coach

“I am delighted at the character we showed to grind out a couple of victories from tricky positions.

“So long as we focus on our game plan and ability, and work on some of the mistakes from this weekend in training over the weeks ahead, then we will still be in a very strong position to earn promotion to the Premiership for next season.”

View Saints Wheelchair Rugby’s FIXTURES and RESULTS. For more information on how you can get involved, please email [email protected].

RedHatPhoto continues support of Saints Wheelchair Rugby

Club Photographer Claire Jones has once again pledged her support for Saints Wheelchair Rugby this season, raising money for the side through RedHatPhoto.com.

Jones is one of the most recognisable faces pitchside on matchdays despite spending most of her time behind a camera, thanks to the bright red hats she wears as she follows Saints both home and away – and has now covered almost 450 Northampton first-team matches.

But she has also been fundraising for Saints Wheelchair Rugby for the past three seasons, with all money raised from RedHatPhoto.com going directly into the team’s coffers – with thousands raised to date.

“I love supporting Saints Wheelchair Rugby,” said Jones. “The team has come so far in recent years and I have no doubt they will continue to grow this term.

“Wheelchair Rugby is fantastic to watch; it’s a full-contact, mixed-gender disability sport, and both the athleticism and enjoyment of Saints’ players is clear to see!

“I hope the money I raise can go a long way towards another successful season of development for Northampton, and towards continuing to get more young players to take up the sport.”

Higgins added: “We’re incredibly grateful for all of Claire’s support. Obviously, her fundraising helps us with training and equipment, but her photos also help us to raise the profile of Saints Wheelchair Rugby and grow the sport in our region, so we would not be where we are without her!”

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