St Neots clinched promotion from Midlands Division Four East (South) last Saturday - despite suffering only a second defeat of the season.

The Saints slipped to a 23-17 loss at the hands of Bedford Swifts at The Common, but it wasn't enough to prevent them from securing a rise in class.

But simply being promoted is not enough to satisfy the St Neots camp. They are determined to go up as champions for the second time in four seasons.

Captain Ross Hubbard said: “It was bitter-sweet on Saturday to be promoted on a day when we lost.

“We came away disappointed about the result even though we know we are going up. We really want to end the season on a big high as champions and that is now our focus.

“After being relegated last season, we stepped back in the summer and looked at what had gone wrong. We wanted to develop a new culture at the club and that has really been the focus.

“Promotion has come as a result of the players buying into that and the improved training regime we've put in place.

“We did a lot of work on fitness last summer and that allowed us to make a fast start, while new players made a really positive impact.

“Being promoted is the first step of bigger plans for the club and the next challenge will be to establish ourselves in the league above.”

St Neots fell behind to a converted try last Saturday, but Dan Court touched down to slash the deficit.

A successful penalty left the visitors 10-5 up at the break, but Saints briefly hit the front in the second half when Dan Hill's try was converted by Lewis Hall.

They were soon trailing again to a penalty before a converted try eased Swifts eight points clear. A Matt Davies try kept Saints in contention but another Swifts penalty put the contest out of their reach.

St Neots' advantage at the summit has been slashed to four points by Bourne - the only other team to beat them this season.

They host the Lincolnshire side in a crucial top-of-the-table clash at The Common on Saturday, March 24.

Saints then go to mid-table side Brackley for their penultimate fixture on April 7 before closing the campaign at home to third-placed Deepings on April 21.