BLETCHLEY’S poor away form in the South West 1 East league continued on Saturday as they went down 20-18 at struggling Cheltenham.
After back-to-back home defeats to Old Centralians and Reading before the Christmas break, Bletchley have slipped to 10th place in the table ahead of Salisbury’s visit to Manor Fields this Saturday.
A trip to Cheltenham represented a fairly good chance for Bletchley to pick up their first win on the road this season, but the Gloucestershire side have added some good young players to their squad in recent weeks and got revenge for losing 24-21 at Manor Fields earlier in the season.
With five minutes on the clock, the home side scored a converted try from an excellent rolling maul that Bletchley were unable to stop, giving them a 7-0 lead with the conversion.
The visitors found themselves under great pressure and Cheltenham added another three points to their tally with a routine penalty kick moments later.
It was nearly a quarter of the way into the match before Bletchley could gain any meaningful possession and a foothold in the match. When they did their positive play was rewarded with a penalty from Phil Harman to bridge the gap to 10-3 at the interval.
And the visitors were a different side after the break – good work from Adam Dempsey and George Harman saw Ben Robinson find space to score in the left corner. The tricky conversion from Phil Harman was off target, but Bletchley were back in contention at 10-8.
Five minutes later and Bletchley took the lead with a well worked move, with Kevin Turnbull and Paul Sherriff linking well for George Harman to score under the posts.
Phil Harman added the extras and Bletchley were in front for the first time at 15-10 with six minutes of the second half played.
However, Cheltenham soon reduced the gap to two points with a penalty just moments later, before a charge down by Dempsey saw the visitors come close to scoring again.
At the other end, only a fine covering tackle from Will Garrett prevented the home side from going back in front as they hit Bletchley on the break.
Bletchley worked their way back up the pitch and began to put the pressure on the hosts. A five metre scrum option was decided when they were awarded a penalty close to the line. It was the right option at the time because Bletchley’s pack had been piling on the pressure, but Cheltenham disrupted the scrum well and the chance to take the game away from the home side went begging.
Instead it was Cheltenham who made the most of their scoring opportunities, and they managed to secure the ball in their own 22 area and worked their way down the pitch to score the decisive try.
With the successful conversion, the home side were back in front at 20-15, and although Phil Harman converted a penalty to cut the deficit, Bletchley had to settle for a losing bonus point after a first away win slipped agonisingly away.