Rugby: Olney end City’s title hopes

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Milton Keynes will be sick of the sight of Olney after their near neighbours ended their hopes of winning the Southern Counties North league title on Saturday.

Having also won the first meeting of the season between the sides, Olney completed the double over City with a 36-13 victory at Emerson Valley that ends their chances of winning the league.

With Buckingham and Grove both winning, City have dropped from top spot to third in the table with just one game left to play. And that final match couldn’t be more crucial, with City travelling to second placed Grove in a straight fight to secure a play-off place behind Buckingham, who should clinch the title at Thatcham.

Olney have now accounted for half of City’s total league defeats this season, and wasted no time in taking the lead inside 30 seconds on Saturday.

After the try went unconverted, City responded with a penalty kick from Phil Powell, and despite the visitors dominating in the line out and scrum, the hosts began to step it up a gear.

After a well worked set of forward moves and play through the phases, City showed Olney that they were not going to have it all their own way.

And a moment of magic from Gavin Whitehead put the home side ahead as he chipped the ball forwards before collecting it himself to score, converted by Powell for a 10-3 lead.

But Olney were not to be outdone, and after an excellent scrum, a well worked attack and some fast hands, the visitors were back through again, taking advantage of some poor tackling from City.

The game continued to go from end to end, and after Olney’s conversion attempt was off target, Powell showed them how it’s done with another long range penalty to edged City further ahead at 13-8. But unfortunately for the home team, they proved to be their final points of the day.

What followed from Olney was a superb display of confidence, running and attacking play from a team whose fifth position in the league does not give a true reflection of their abilities.

They scrummed well, forcing City into conceding penalty after penalty and also losing lineout after lineout, and eventually Olney’s dominance began to pay off as they cruised to victory.

So after looking on course to win the title just a week or two ago, City now face the daunting task of needing to win at Grove this Saturday in order to book a place in the promotion play-offs.

Bletchley were beaten 45-0 in their penultimate South West 1 East league game of the season away at Old Centralians on Saturday. Sat eighth in the table, their final game is at champions-elect Bracknell this weekend.