EXCITEMENT is building at Ellesmere Port RUFC as the club’s first team stand on the brink of what would be a remarkable promotion.
Off the pace after a hit-and-miss start to the season, the Oilers have won 14 straight games since to leave them within touching distance of a top-two finish in South Lancs/Cheshire Division Three.
With two matches to play, they could even secure promotion this Saturday if they win their derby at Capenhurst (3pm) and second-placed Prenton lose their final game of the campaign away to Liverpool Rangers.
Port player-chairman Paul Watkinson said: “We’re unbeaten in the league since October and that’s our best run for over a decade.
“Promotion is now in our hands but we can’t get complacent as we have two hard games left to play – the first being a tough local derby away against Capenhurst.
“We were well beaten there last year but are a different side now so it should be good game.”
Port’s amazing winning run continued on Saturday when they held on for a nail-biting 28-25 home victory over Liverpool Rangers.
Disappointed at not securing the bonus point, the Oilers were lifted when they learned that Prenton had gone down at home to Parkonians.
Watkinson, whose side are a point behind Prenton and likely champions Crewe & Nantwich, said: “It was another good win for us against a very strong Liverpool Rangers.
“We weren’t at our best and were disappointed not to get the bonus point. However, with Old Parkonians winning, it didn’t matter.”
On a gloriously sunny afternoon at the Whitby Sports & Social Club, Port raced into 17-0 lead thanks to a brace of tries from No 8 James Callaghan that were converted by fly-half Chris Carbutt, who had opened the scoring with a penalty.
Although Carbutt later added a long-range drop goal, the rest of the half belonged to the student team as they reduced the deficit to trail by just three points going into the break.
The home side’s nerves were eased five minutes after the restart when a deft Carbutt chip allowed fullback Anthony Jones to race away and score.
Carbutt missed the conversion but then kicked a penalty to put the Oilers 11 points in front.
The Liverpool visitors were not finished yet, though, and they set up a tense final 20 minutes with a penalty of their own followed by a try.
But with tireless man-of-the-match Jim Shinton producing some outstanding tackles in the back-row, Port stood firm to a seal a success which placed their destiny in their own hands.