Streets win battle against the drop despite Woodford defeat
Coach Bailey delighted at Shoreditch-based side’s London Two North East survival
Old Streetonians first-team coach David Bailey was all-smiles after his side’s London Two North East survival was confirmed on Saturday.
The Shoreditch-based team suffered a heavy 44-5 home defeat at the hands of fourth-placed Woodford, but results elsewhere – notably Beccles losing 40-29 at Enfield Ignatians and Canvey Island getting beat 31-10 at home to Saffron Walden – confirmed that Bailey’s men had won their relegation battle.
And the Old Streetonians coach was delighted with the news, despite an apparent technical glitch on the RFU results website.
“We are so happy to have secured London Two rugby for the club next season,” said Bailey.
“I did have a slight scare though on Saturday evening when I checked the scores for the rest of the league and the Beccles result had been put up the wrong way round so it looked as though they had gone to Enfield and won!
“However, it was soon changed a couple of hours later, and due to the results going the way that we predicted, we are safe from the drop and have survived by the skin of our teeth once again.
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“It was vital that we stayed up as there is a big difference between London Two and London Three and once you go down it is very difficult to come back up.”
Old Streets were outplayed on Saturday against a Woodford side placed at the opposite end of the league table and Bailey insisted that he had no complaints about the result, and that the visitors were good value for the win.
“I’m not too disappointed with the result, as Woodford are a very good side,” he said.
“They had three or four players that were of national league standard and they deserved to win the game.
“We were competitive in stages of the match, but we didn’t really cause them too many problems.
“Apart from a bad start to the season, Woodford are one of the form sides in the league and they’ve won 14 out of their last 15 games and I am sure they will be challenging for promotion next season.”
Bailey’s men still have one more game to play before the end of this year’s campaign, but now that the Shoreditch-based side know they are safe, they can start planning for next season.
“After the game on Saturday I sat the lads down and had a talk with them,” said Bailey.
“I told them that we know how hard this league is and we have only just survived for two seasons running by battling very hard.
“Now we need to look at what we can improve on so that we can finish well above the relegation zone next season and survive more comfortably.
“For me, one of the most important things we need to work on is our fitness levels.
“If we can match the top sides in terms of their fitness, then we stand a real chance of beating them.”
Bailey also revealed that player recruitment will be vital, if Old Streets are to aim for a mid-table finish next season.
“It is the luck of the draw when it comes to bringing in new players because of the location of the club,” he said.
“It all depends who is going to come and live and work in the area.
“There is a big financial gap in the league too as some teams are able to pay their players but we can’t.
“However, what we can offer is London Two level rugby and that should attract some good players.
“It was important that we kept our standing as one of the premier rugby clubs in the area and remain ahead of our local rivals like Hackney and Millwall.
“We are not about to go poaching players from lower-level clubs, that is not what we are about.
“However, we have had some good news as Alex Webb, a former England schoolboys second row is moving back to the area after a spell in west London with London Scottish.
“He will be a big addition to the squad as we look to build a team capable of competing and not just surviving in London Two North East.”