CLUB captain Matt Hughes is revelling in his side’s history-making season after Kirkby Lonsdale scaled new heights and concluded their campaign with a tenth successive home victory.
A 27-8 victory over Wilmslow at the weekend saw Kirkby secure fifth-place in North One West – the Underley Park outfit’s highest-ever league position.
And having finished ahead of derby rivals Vale of Lune and only six points adrift of Kendal, Hughes is pleased his charges have the ability to flex their muscle in such company.
“It’s been a fantastic season for the club and we’re very happy with the achievement,” he said.
“It’s been the most successful campaign the club has ever had and as I’ve said before it’s by far the best Kirkby team I’ve ever played in.
“To finish above Vale of Lune was a blessing and we weren’t far behind Kendal either.
“From a local point of view we’ve always been the underdog so it was good to show we can compete on the same level as those two teams.
“We ended with our tenth home win on the bounce and it was nice to finish in style with a five-pointer – there were plenty of reasons why we wanted to finish on a high.
“The future looks bright and next season we’ll be looking to repeat what we’ve done this year or kick on a bit further.”
By scoring four tries in the win against Wilmslow, Kirkby ended proceedings with 13 wins from 26 matches and a total of 20 bonus points.
The accumulation of bonus points, together with a quality pool of players to select from and a consistency of selection, are all factors Hughes believes have contributed to an impressive year.
“We let ourselves down towards the end of the season with heavy losses away at Broughton Park and Wigton,” he added.
“But apart from that we’ve tended to get something out of every game which is the difference between finishing towards the lower end of the table and where we have done.
“The pack has remained pretty much the same all the way through the season and if we’ve had changes it’s only tended to be one or two.
“And with nine, ten, 12 and 13 playing every game until the last couple of weeks it has allowed us to get some consistency.”
Saturday also saw Simon Dowker lead the team out as the experienced second row forward bid farewell to Underley Park, with Hughes leading the tributes to his former team-mate.
“Simon has been brilliant, he’s had 20 years in the first team and two seasons as captain before I took over,” he said.
“He has been great from a captain’s point of view. To be able to call on someone with that level of experience and reliability when you need them is a great comfort.”