Neil Shillingford happy with Dudley Kingswinford's progress
Neil Shillingford has lauded the improvement of his Dudley Kingswinford side – and is now expecting a strong end to the Midlands One West season.
DK's director of rugby oversaw a 22-7 win against Worcester Wanderers on Saturday, before which a minute's silence was held for former player and coach Richard 'Dick' Connett – who passed away aged 78 after a lengthy period of poor health.
With seven games left to play, they are fourth in the table on 52 points.
And although a promotion challenge now seems out of reach, Shillingford wants his charges to put together a strong run and build momentum for next term.
"There was a time we were targeting promotion, but we got the wrong results against Burton and Bournville," he said.
"Those losses kind of put us out of it, but you have to reassess your targets.
"We finished seventh last year so it's an improvement and the aim for us now is to stay in fourth, although we have got Stratford Upon Avon breathing down our necks as they are just two points below us.
"We are still in a cup, and we are looking to finish as high as possible and be stronger for next year. The lads have done well this season and we want to build for next year as the division is likely to be even tougher."
In tricky conditions on Saturday – sleet coming down throughout the affair – hosts DK took the lead through a Duncan Tompkins penalty kick.
Being patient and attacking at the right times, they went into the break with an 8-0 lead as Tommy Huggins went over after a clever passage of play.
They continued in the same vein in the second period, and were soon awarded a penalty try which Tompkins converted to make it 15-0.
DK were then given a second penalty try and, again, Tompkins made no mistake with his boot to go 22 up.
Searching for a fourth try though, the home side were caught out late on as Wanderers got on the scoreboard with a converted try.
On the result, Shillingford added: "Worcester are one of those sides that try and slow you down but we managed to overcome that, show good discipline and control the pace of the game.
"We stood toe-to-toe with them and played nice rugby as well, when needed.
"Before we probably would have buckled in that situation but not now, we can speed it up when we need to and that's because of how we have improved."
Next up for DK is a clash against Hereford at home this Saturday.
Also in the division, Wolverhampton's slump in form continued as they were thrashed 49-3 at Newport.
That is three successive losses for them now, and they will hope to get back on track when they host Stoke-on-Trent.
In Midlands Two West, Stourbridge Lions are still going strong at the top of the table after winning 26-0 at Stafford.
Nine points and three places below Stour are Walsall – who were defeated 21-13 at Leek – and sixth-placed Kidderminster Carolians just came up short in a 27-25 thriller at Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Burntwood's title hopes are very much alive in Midlands Three West following a 34-18 success at rock-bottom Eccleshall.
They victory leaves them just five points behind table-toppers Ludlow, with seven games left to play.
Nearby Cannock are in sixth and fell to a 33-13 defeat at Cleobury Mortimer.
In Midlands Four West, Rugeley are just four points off top spot after a 15-8 win at Stafford-based St Leonards.
Mid-table Bloxwich will be in high spirits after a 29-10 victory against Barton-under-Needwood.
Aldridge carried on their fantastic run at home – five games played, and five won – as they beat Chaddesley Corbett 39-16 in Midlands Five West. Bottom-of-the-table Stourport lost 19-14 at Warley.