MILTON Keynes earned a hugely significant win in their Southern Counties North promotion push as they left Drifters with a 22-16 success on Saturday.
The side from near Slough have made a good start to life in the division and represented one of City’s toughest away challenges of the season. But the men from Emerson Valley came through the test with flying colours to stay third in the table and keep pace with Reading Abbey – on the end of a shock defeat to Aylesbury – and Grove, who leapfrogged them to the top of the pile after beating Wallingford.
Drifters, promoted to the Southern Counties North league last season, made a flying start to the campaign, but after four consecutive wins they have tailed off slightly in recent weeks.
However, with both sides being tested by the cold, wet and windy weather, City could take nothing for granted if they wanted to maintain their own fantastic winning form – already standing at six games going into the game.
City opened the scoring with a neat move through the backs following some good rucking from the forwards – culminating in winger Dan Rolfe diving over in the corner for the first try of the day.
Drifters soon responded with a comfortable penalty following the City forwards being deemed to have hands in the ruck, making it 5-3 to the visitors.
With the conditions getting worse there were inevitable errors from both sides. Drifters were fortunate to score their first try following the ball being hacked through. Despite the efforts of the City defence, it was a Drifters hand that first touched the ball as is crept over the try line, putting the home side in front.
But Phil Powell dominated the scoring for the remainder of the first half with a number of accurate kicks between the posts, and by the break City were leading 17-8.
The challenge was to defend their lead with the strong wind in their faces. Within five minutes of the restart Drifters were awarded a penalty which was converted, cutting the gap to just six points.
And with the wind behind them the hosts were expecting a few more scores before the end of the game. But City were spurred into action and dominated much of the second half.
Another try soon arrived due to the domination of the pack as Drifters were struggling to contain the scrums and a number of penalties were conceded near their line. Eventually a forward try was scored, with Mark Robinson taking the ball over from the base of the scrum, making it 22-11.
Drifters weren’t prepared to give up yet though and they made things interesting with another try late on. But City held firm in the challenging conditions to record what could prove to be a hugely important win – their seventh on the spin.
And they will have to be at their best again in the weeks ahead. Promotion places are often won and lost in the hard winter months, and next up for City is another must win game at home to table toppers Grove on December 8.