Simon Kidney rues what might have been for Eastern Counties
Objectives achieved by retaining status
Simon Kidney feels that it was a missed opportunity for Eastern Counties in their Bill Beaumont County Championship, Division One North campaign.
They signed off the three fixtures with a 27-24 defeat to Yorkshire at Grange Road on Saturday, with two tries from Matt Hema, one from James Ayrton and seven points from Fin Creighton undone by a score from the visitors five minutes from time.
It was a second defeat for Eastern Counties, who also lost 52-31 at Lancashire, after they started with a 22-19 win at East Midlands.
It left lead coach Kidney with mixed emotions as they achieved their stated aim, finishing fourth in the group, two places higher than last season.
“The objective was to keep us in Division One, which we achieved,” said Kidney. “The objective was to improve on last year, which we did.
“But personally I’m a bit disappointed because I think we had a team capable of getting to Twickenham, to be honest.
“We ground out a really good win against East Midlands, we didn’t turn up in the first half against Lancashire and then won the second half 31-7.
“If Will Scholes scores in the first two minutes against Yorkshire, with a two-on-one, it’s a different game – I think then our mindset is potentially different. In that first 20 minutes of the Yorkshire game, we absolutely dominated them but we only came back with seven points.
“I’m pleased that we’ve had a more successful season than last year, it means that we’ve moved a step forward. But actually I think it’s an opportunity missed.”
There were many positives from the campaign, including players standing for selection and the number making the step up from the under-20s side, of which Kidney is also lead coach.
“I think we got the preparation right. I think having Mike Ayrton as skipper really got a lot of the Cambridge boys keen,” he said.
“We were trying to make it a fun, engaging atmosphere and we got more of a Team EC feel to it than we have probably achieved in previous years.
“I can’t underestimate being the head coach of the under-20s – we finished the game on Saturday with five under-20s on the pitch which we haven’t done before.
“Being the lead coach of both is quite helpful in that ilk because they know the coach, they know the style, they know what I’m looking for and they enjoy themselves.
“In the past, I think they have relied a bit too much on seasoned professionals rather than blooding a bit of youth.”