AFTER a strong first half of the season, Bletchley’s form has hit something of a stumbling block as they suffered their second home defeat in as many weeks.
A week after Old Centralians left Manor Fields with a 39-0 victory to maintain their promotion push, fellow title challengers Reading dug deep to a secure a 17-5 win against Bletchley, who slipped to 10th place in the South West 1 East league as a result.
They now have to wait until January 5 for their next game when they make the trip to Cheltenham – beaten by league leaders Bracknell last time out.
Bletchley have made great progress since their 57-3 thumping by Reading at the start of the season, and Saturday’s performance was testament to that.
Bletchley had the majority of play in the first half, but were unable to turn possession and territory into points, with Will Garrett only denied a try by a strong challenge from his opposite number after a good break down the wing.
However, the hosts did get the first points on the board in first half injury time. From a Bletchley scrum the backs used the ball well and Kev Turnbull was released to dive over the try line in the left corner.
The conversion was missed by Phil Harman, but the try was the last play of the first half and Bletchley were looking good.
However, Reading responded with a routine penalty conversion at the start of the second half, before turning the game on its head with an unconverted score to take the lead after 15 minutes.
Bletchley struggled to get back into the match after that as Reading made it 11-5 with half an hour of the second half played – finally managing to convert a penalty after a couple of misses.
The referee saw fit to turn a Reading scrum into a penalty after back chat by Bletchley, and with 35 minutes on the clock, the home side were outside losing bonus point range as Reading kicked for 14-5.
The game became fractious for the last period of play as both sides forgot about playing rugby and exchanged a few well-placed handbags.
Reading added another penalty late in the game to stretch their margin of victory to 12 points, despite the efforts of Bletchley to score a second try and take something from the game.
Bletchley now have a couple of weeks to rest, and hope some of their injuries picked up over the last few weeks clear up for the second half of the season.
Bletchley’s 2nds played out a 5-5 draw with Oxford Harlequins in really muddy conditions, more conducive to swimming than rugby. John Stevenson scored for Bletchley to level the scores just before half time, but neither team were able to touch down again.
>> Milton Keynes made it nine wins on the spin to maintain their Southern Counties North league promotion push as they won 34-27 at Wallingford.
Sat third in the table, the gap to table toppers Reading Abbey has been cut to just three points, with Grove still second after beating Olney 31-0.
One of City’s two league defeats this Saturday came against Reading Abbey earlier in the season, but the men from Emerson Valley get their chance to take revenge on January 5 when they travel to Berkshire for what could prove to be a potential title deciding clash.
City’s bonus point victory away at Wallingford didn’t come easy – going from the club’s full size pitch to their smallest due to a serious injury.
Phil Powell got City’s first points on the board after five minutes, and only five minutes later Simon Kockelberch stormed over to score the visitors’ first try of the afternoon.
Unfortunately Kockelberch would play no further part in the game after he suffered a broken arm in the process of scoring and was taken to hospital. While he received treatment, the game had to be moved to the smaller pitch.
Shortly after the pitch swap, Stuart Tomkinson scored to extend City’s lead, and after Powell missed the conversion, he made up for it with a convert penalty to make the half time score 20-8, with the hosts finally getting off the mark.
Wallingford closed the gap to five points with a converted try earlier in the second half, but the visitors responded well with a score from Dan Rolfe. Powell converted to make it 27-15 to City.
Just as City thought they only had to run the clock down, the home side were awarded a penalty try and with the easy conversion took the score difference back to just five points.
But all thoughts of a nightmare finish were diminished as Gino Genova scored City’s fourth and bonus point try to seal the win, with Powell converting.