RICK Jones' tenure as Wilmslow Rugby Club coach ended with a loss.

Wolves' single season adventure in the Northern Premier League ended as it started with defeat at the hands of Kirkby Lonsdale.

The 38-17 fall was the 22nd in 26 outings at the highest level in which Wilmslow have played.

Supporters will look back at Jones' time in charge as the man who got them there and will wish him luck in the new chapter of his coaching career.

After seven seasons, he has decided to return to Macclesfield – the club that he played for more than 500 times over the course of 20 years.

He will be joining the coaching team there and in all probability, heading it up.

Jones was at pains to say how much he has enjoyed his time at Wilmslow but added that the opportunity at his home club was such that he could not turn it down.

He has been a popular figure at Wilmslow, has fitted in well and achieved success.

"We’re sorry to see him go," said president Chris George.

"But we fully understand why he has made that decision.

"He got on well with the players and accomplished a great deal.

"We hope that it works out well for him back at Macc."

At the season’s outset, Wilmslow’s players were encouraged, come what may, to enjoy and relish the challenge of testing themselves in Level 5 rugby.

And if the manner in which they stuck together to retain their motivation and spirit throughout a difficult campaign is anything to go by, then despite all the setbacks and heavy losses, they responded to the challenge, never gave up, stood tall and eventually acquitted themselves with some honour.

The lesson of this season is that the pace and power of the game in the NPL is a big step up from the level below and requires a promoted side to assemble a strengthened squad.

The leading sides all fringe on part-time professionalism and consequently recruit bigger, faster, fitter, more powerful and more skilled players.

A handful of Wilmslow’s players have shown they have what it takes to raise their game to this level but it would take an injection, principally of pace, in the back row and back division to become competitive at this level.

The only part of the game in which the team was effective all season was in the set pieces of scrum and lineout.

The Wolves front row, whoever they put out, was never bettered all season and provided a solid platform for their second row.

The lineout too was generally well contested so, whatever the Wolves’ shortcomings were, they didn’t include an inability to win sufficient decent first phase possession.

As it is, three wins and a draw from the campaign leaves Wolves firmly anchored at the foot of the league.

They will be accompanied into Level 6 rugby next season by Vale of Lune and Kendal, who between them accounted for two of the Wolves’ wins and their solitary draw.

Hull were run away league winners and Blaydon will contest the play off to National 2 North against Luctonians from Leominster in the Midlands.