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Andy Long wants Bishop's Stortford to surpass last season's National League 1 tally after securing survival

Andy Long. Picture: Vikki Lince
Andy Long. Picture: Vikki Lince

Andy Long wants Bishop’s Stortford to surpass last season’s points tally after their win at Blackheath ensured they will be playing in National League 1 against next term.

The director of rugby saw his side triumph 21-12 as they made it nine wins from their last ten outings to complete a superb recovery having been bottom of the table in early January.

Stortford, who came seventh last season, are now eighth in the standings with 69 points, just nine fewer than the 78 they amassed in 2017-18.

“To get ourselves out of where we were, doing the great escape if you like, the whole squad has done really well,” said Long, whose side visit fifth-placed Rotherham Titans this Saturday. “It’s not been easy, but it’s been such a great effort from the boys.

National League 1 form guide (8294207)
National League 1 form guide (8294207)

“Even when it got really tough, the boys kept coming into training and wanting to be better rugby players. They just love the club.

“After round 17 we were bottom of the league and I think we were eight points off a safe position. We knew our performances had been good and the win over Sale [on January 12] was huge.

“We don’t feel we’re finished yet. There are 15 points left to play for and the boys want 15 points.

“Now the pressure’s off, in terms of avoiding relegation, it’s about still going out there and performing. There’s a big difference between finishing say sixth and 12th. We want to finish as high as we can.”

Nick Hankin, Baxter Wilson and Reuben Bird-Tulloch scored the tries, which were all converted by Tom Banks, in the success at Blackheath.

Long was impressed with the display as they beat the fourth-placed hosts for the third time
since being promoted to National League 1.

“The boys worked very, very hard on Saturday,” he said. “It felt like it was two proper top-four or top-five teams battling it out, to be honest.

“We defended very well and also built pressure on them, taking our chances well when they came. It was such a great win.”

There was also a debut for the recently-recruited teenager Sam Cappaert, who came off the bench to get his first taste of the action.

The 19-year-old fly-half came through the ranks at Brentwood before spells in the academies at Northampton Saints and Bristol.

He could get more game time in Stortford’s remaining three fixtures as Saracens loanee Manu Vunipola is unavailable.

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