WINNINGTON Park Ladies can set their sights higher after an encouraging start to the season in a different division, according to their coach Martin Eastwood.

A switch to the northern section of the RFU Women’s National Challenge, following two testing campaigns in the midlands section, has brought with it a change in fortune.

The team have won four of their first six league matches and are through to the next stage of a national knockout competition.

That contrasts sharply with a single victory in the whole of last term that left them second-bottom of the Midlands Two Central table.

“If we carry on as we are then we’re likely to get promoted,” said Eastwood.

“It’s probably ahead of where we expected to be but it’s not an opportunity we’re going to turn down if it happens.”

He told the Guardian that a bigger pool of players – around half-a-dozen new recruits arrived at Burrows Hill in the summer – had made a difference.

With shorter distances to travel to away games, those same individuals have been available to play more often.

Eastwood has additional support too from Mike Penny, who coached a senior women’s team at Northwich when they had one, and can call on a physio for match-days.

“The club is really on board with what we’re trying to do,” he said.

“There wasn’t a space for us in the north when we formed the team and we’ve had to be patient for a place to come up.

“The girls are loving it as you’d expect.

“For me, it’s always been about improving them as players and making sure their experience of rugby is the best it can be.

“The wins are just a nice bonus.”

Winnington’s progress will be tested in the next fortnight.

They travel to Burnley for a North Two West fixture on Sunday – opponents they edged out 17-14 in the return game.

After that a road trip to Littleborough, the current league leaders, follows in the RFU Women’s Junior Cup.

Meanwhile Park are still looking to add to their squad.

The team practice every Tuesday and Thursday at Burrows Hill, from 7pm.

To find out more about playing rugby at Winnington, call Martin Eastwood on 07843 286746 or send an email to