Rugby round-up: Bletchley hold heads high despite defeat

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IT’S now three games without a win for Bletchley, but a youthful side could hold their heads up high after a narrow defeat to Swanage & Wareham on Saturday.

The 20-13 loss followed a draw against Marlow and defeat to Salisbury, but there were plenty of positives to take from the game for a Bletchley side with 30 players unavailable for selection.

So it was an opportunity for the club’s youngsters to show what they were made of as they made the three hour trip down to Swanage. And they did Bletchley proud by securing a bonus point that sees them hang on to eighth place in the South West 1 East table – still just ahead of the Dorset side.

A breezy, but sunny afternoon on the south coast greeted the travellers as they arrived weary but ready to go. However, it was the home side who began the stonger of the two, keeping Bletchley camped in their own half for long periods before the forwards forced a turnover that saw them relieve the pressure.

A good break from youngsters Will Garrett and Ryan Cane took them deep into Swanage territory where continued pressure forced the hosts to concede a penalty – Dave Coleman coolly converting the first points of the afternoon to give the visitors a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes.

With Swanage in control following the restart, Bletchley had to work hard again to keep them out. Their lineout jumpers forced the Dorset outfit to make all sorts of errors at the set-piece and as Bletchley upped the pressure, the Swanage fly-half snatched at a drop goal attempt.

Swanage came back at Bletchley, but centre Adam Griffiths managed to rip the ball from a Swanage player and make a 40 yard break. The counter from Griffiths proved decisive and he offloaded the ball to fellow centre Ryan Cane to run in under the posts. Coleman then added the extras and Bletchley were 10-0 to the good with 23 minutes played.

Griffiths was in action again just a few minutes later when he intercepted a loose pass from the Swanage backs. But despite another strong run, he fell short of the try line and was tackled. Adam Johnson was quick into the ruck, allowing the ball to be recycled, but the hosts were determined not be outclassed at the breakdown and forced the turnover.

This spurred Swanage on at the other end and their pressure paid off with their first try of the game, taking advantage of Bletchley’s lack of tackling in the middle, with Charlie Parish beating five players to touch down before James Harris added the conversion.

Things quickly got worse for Bletchley as another lapse in concentration allowed Glyn Alner in to score Swanage’s second try, with Harris again successful with the conversion to make it 14-10 at the break.

The start of the second half saw the visitors concede a penalty which Swanage wasting no time in scoring to extend their lead to seven points. However, Bletchley worked hard to win their own penalty and Coleman made no mistake to keep them in touch.

Both sides then enjoyed good spells of possession and territory, but neither were able to make the most of it. The game had become scrappy and it was Swanage who were able to take advantage as that man Harris found his range again to convert a penalty, leaving Bletchley to hang on and secure the bonus point for staying within seven points of the winners.

Next up for Bletchley is a home game against Maidenhead on Saturday.

Olney stay bottom of the South West 1 East table after suffering their seventh defeat in eight games, 45-3 away to table toppers Coney Hill.