MILTON Keynes produced their most devastating performance of the season to remind Southern Counties North league leaders Grove that they’re still very much in a title fight.
City thumped lowly Slough 78-0 at Emerson Valley on Saturday, stretching their fantastic winning run to 11 games, while closing the gap to table toppers Grove to just two points.
The Oxfordshire side enjoyed their own convincing victory over Tadley, and despite City having the better win-lose ratio from their 13 league matches, it’s Grove who continue to occupy the one automatic promotion place, courtesy of picking up more bonus points along the way so far this season.
City were 22-20 winners when the two sides met in early December, and a title decider looks to be on the cards when they clash again in Grove in late March, with Olney’s defeat of Reading Abbey on Saturday opening a four-gap to the side in third place.
Next up for City is a trip to second from bottom Tadley, and if they can get anywhere near the sort of scoring form that saw them put 12 tries past bottom side Slough then a 12th consecutive win looks a foregone conclusion.
Dan Pearson marked his return to the club with five tries, while there were two for Dan Rolfe and a try apiece for Alex Trivino, Darren Brodrick, Scott Aspinall, Ash Hill and Rob Mathews, with Phil Powell converting about half of them.
Pearson was playing his first match back at the club after a year and a half away with Leighton Buzzard, playing in the higher Midlands 2 East league before their relegation last year.
His welcome return could prove to be the difference between City winning the league and fighting it out for a place in the play-offs once again. To their credit, Slough never gave up on Saturday, but they simply couldn’t cope with Pearson and his in-form team-mates.
>> Olney’s first home match of 2013 couldn’t have gone much better as they beat Reading Abbey 19-12 to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Jordan Letts put the hosts ahead with a penalty, before some good play from Dylan Winter and Charlie Belcher saw Will Parkin go over for the opening try and an 8-0 lead after 25 minutes.
Ollie Caplin’s long pass to Letts saw him kick a perfect drop goal to extend Olney’s lead further, before the visitors converted a penalty to cut the gap back to eight points at 11-3.
However, Olney took control of the contest just before half time when Letts went through to touch down after good work from captain Dylan Winter on the counter attack. The conversion attempt was wide of target, but at 16-3 the home side were in command.
Stuart Livesy extended Olney’s lead early in the second half, and despite an admirable comeback from Reading, the win was in the bag.
It’s Olney’s turn to give Slough a good beating on Saturday, and with Tadley up next after that, they have the chance to close the gap on the four sides currently above them in the Southern Counties North table.