Mitchell more determined than ever after last gasp heartache

Halesowen News: Centre Stefan Shillingford breaks through the Harrogate defence. Centre Stefan Shillingford breaks through the Harrogate defence.

DIRECTOR of rugby Neil Mitchell has vowed Stourbridge will put final game heartache behind them as they prepare to mount another title challenge next season.

Stour suffered promotion disappointment in the final seconds of the season for the second year running when missing out on a play-off place by points differential.

The Stourton Park outfit went into last weekend's final league fixtures with all options still open to them. They could still win the National League Two North, claim second spot and a play-off spot, or finish the campaign empty handed.

Unfortunately, it proved to be the latter after Darlington's 28-24 victory over Macclesfield in a first versus second head-to-head showdown.

Macclesfield's 82nd minute try was enough to give them the bonus point they needed to claim title glory.

Despite Stour doing all they could by beating Harrogate 41-19 away from home, the other game's high try count left them with third place. Second-placed Darlington came ahead of Stour by a points differential of just 20 after both finishing the season level on 131 points overall.

However, a bullish Mitchell said he is more determined than ever to get this side promoted and praised his players for all they gave to the cause this campaign.

He said: "It is very frustrating that it should go down to the final seconds of the season for the second year and we should miss out on both occasions.

"But that is sport and it is the reason we are all involved. There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a fantastic season for the club. The players couldn't have done any more.

"The chairman has asked me to stay on and I'm more than happy to do that. This only motivates me more. I'm in it to win it and will be looking to rebuild next season and go again.

"No one at the club wants to let the momentum we have built up to flounder."

He did admit that it may be difficult to keep hold of some of the club's better players.

"I will be sitting down with the players and looking towards next year. There are going to other clubs interested in them so we may have to bring in a few new players. It would be wrong of me to pick on small areas they could have done better in because they have been close to having a perfect season. What I want now is to tweak a few things, keep players that are up for the same challenge that I am, then look to pushing on once more."

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