Rugby: Big derby defeat hurts City

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Milton Keynes’ promotion hopes suffered a major blow on Saturday when they went down 54-26 away to local rivals Buckingham.

Not only did the defeat hurt City in terms of local bragging rights, but it has also seriously dented their hopes of winning the Southern Counties North league title. Even second place and a chance of promotion via the play-offs is now in danger.

That’s because City came up against a Buckingham side in excellent form, and their win saw them leapfrog above the men from Emerson Valley into third place. With leaders Reading Abbey and second in the table Grove also winning, Saturday turned into a bit of a disaster for City. But with a game still in hand, all is not lost just yet.

City went into the game at Buckingham on the back of an incredible run of 13 league wins – their only loss during that period coming against their near neighbours in the county cup.

Perhaps the visitors’ heads were not really in the game, six days after the passing of club president John Silk. The two teams observed a minute of silence in his memory before kick-off.

It took the hosts less than two minutes to get the scoring going, but City’s Dan Pearson responded, and Phil Powell’s conversion gave them the lead.

The two sides exchanged scores again – Rob Matthews going over for the visitors – but Buckingham stretched their lead to 33-13 at the break.

City began the second half brightly with a try courtesy of Ashley Hill, but Buckingham were in simply unstoppable form and scored with relative ease at the other end.

Matthews got a consolation try for City late on, but by that time the game was gone, and this Saturday’s visit from Drifters must bring nothing less than maximum points.