BLETCHLEY left Swanage & Wareham with losing bonus points on Saturday, but it could have been so much more had they taken their chances.
Their agonising 29-28 defeat was Bletchley’s fifth in six games, but they remain above the bottom three in the South West 1 East ahead of the visit of lowly High Wycombe to Manor Fields this weekend.
Swanage were propping up the table before the game, and with Bletchley in good spirits after a narrow defeat to Coney Hill last time out, the visitors were hopeful of returning from their longest trip of the season with a win.
And they made a cracking start – Will Garrett touching down for Bletchley after a neat move between Dave Coleman and Phil Harman saw the ball released through the backs for Garrett to evade two tackles down the left wing and run in under the posts. Harman converted and the visitors were 7-0 up with less than 60 seconds on the clock.
However, Swanage replied with a penalty a couple of minutes later, and soon took the lead when they were able to capitalise on some space in the middle to run home their first converted try of the game.
Bletchley remained a threat though, and they were back in front after 20 minutes when Coleman and Chris Coussell combined well and John Kirwan was on hand to score. Harman was unable to convert, but the away side were back in front at 12-10.
That lead was increased to five points moments later when Harman kicked a penalty after repeated infringements from the hosts, but they responded well to score their second try, with the missed conversion levelling the scores at 15 apiece after half an hour.
The only further scoring in the first half saw Harman maintain his great form to slot home another penalty and leave Bletchley narrowly ahead at the break.
However, only some desperate defending prevented Swanage from scoring again during five minutes of added time camped deep in Bletchley’s half – Kev Turnbull leading the visitors’ rearguard action.
Sensing their team would collect their first points of the season, the home supporters were very vocal, and they soon had something to celebrate early in the second half when they ran home a converted try to take the lead at 22-18.
A few minutes later and Swanage had confirmed a bonus point at least, scoring their fourth try to take control of the game, with the conversion giving Bletchley an uphill battle to take anything home with them.
It wasn’t over yet though and Bletchley got back in contention thanks to a try from replacement flanker and head coach Stuart Van Rooyen who went over after a good steal and break by Turnbull. Harman’s conversion went wide, but there were now just six points in it at 29-23.
The final period of play was frenetic as both sides were desperate to win. Both made telling breaks, but then errors allowed the opposition to bring the move to an end, with the visitors searching for the converted try that would see them snatch the points at the death.
And Bletchley soon got their chance when a fantastic hand-off by Van Rooyen gave him the space to get over the line and score his second try, cutting the gap to just a single point.
Harman stepped up to convert and win the game for the visitors, but unfortunately he missed and Swanage had escaped with the win in dramatic circumstances.
Bletchley left with bonus points for scoring four tries and only losing narrowly, but it definitely felt like league points dropped as they remain 10th in the table ahead of Wycombe’s visit to Manor Fields this Saturday.