FOUR Phil Powell penalties and a late Myles Donnelly try were enough to give Milton Keynes victory over near neighbours Aylesbury on Saturday, lifting them up to fourth place in the Southern Counties North league.
City’s third win in four eventually came in fairly comfortable fashion, but the game wasn’t without drama at Emerson Valley as Aylesbury were rocked by a serious leg injury to one of their players midway through the second half.
But City went about their business in a professional manner and sealed the victory that keeps them in touch with table toppers Beaconsfield and the chasing pack. And with matches against lowly Tadley and Wallingford to follow in the next fortnight, things are looking pretty good for the men from MK4.
City went into the game refreshed after a three-week break from action and clearly benefited from it against an Aylesbury side in fine form on the back of a 48-12 thumping of Slough seven days earlier. City’s last outing was also against the Berkshire side, and they picked up where they left off from that 30-16 win by opening the scoring through the first of three first half Powell penalties.
That came after a lengthy spell of pressure from the hosts who turned down three earlier penalty chances by kicking for the corner in search of a try. But the visitors won all three of the resulting line-outs to keep them at bay until Powell eventually kicked the first points, but only after skipper Richard Hill missed his attempt.
Powell did the business again after hour an hour and then deep into first half injury time to give City a 9-0 lead at the break after attacking down the slope in the first 40 minutes.
Aylesbury held that advantage for the second half and quickly got their first and only points on the board via a James Woodfall penalty.
City continued to dominate though and would have stretched their lead but for some desperate defending by the visitors, with Dan Rolfe and Rob Matthews denied tries after excellent moves down the wing.
As the match went into the final 10 minutes, Powell converted his fourth penalty of the day to make the score 12-3, and with Aylesbury reduced to 14 players thanks to a yellow card for Gary Horne, the end result was now in little doubt.
However, the visitors continued to press forward when they could and it was from one of their attacks down the City wing that saw Jack Hart fall awkwardly in the tackle. He required hospital treatment and the play was stopped for 10 minutes as both sides waited for the ambulance.
There were only six minutes left to play when the game restarted, but it was enough time for City to score an excellent try, with Donnelly bursting through the middle to score under the posts. Powell then converted to take his own points tally for the day to 14, completing a good day’s work.
City have a game in hand on both second placed Grove and Wootton Bassett in third, but it’s Beaconsfield who remain the team to catch at the top. But coach Sam Viggers believes they can do it if they can repeat their performance against Aylesbury over the next few weeks and continue to be consistent.
He said: “We played very well. The boys were focused and committed to the game, and the big difference was that we didn’t rush or force anything as we knew that if we kept the ball we would score points.
“They were rattled by the intensity we played the game at and they had to defend for most of the game. The attitude of our boys was outstanding with a great feeling of togetherness and commitment to do what ever it took to keep the ball.
“The scrum was outstanding. Our pack was out on a mission and we destroyed the Aylesbury front row, forcing them to give away penalties time after time.”
>> Bletchley picked up their first South West 1 East league win in four by thrashing Maidenhead 44-20.
The result capped a fantastic day for the men from Manor Fields with their new-look clubhouse re-opened following its extension, and with the 2nds also recording a big win against their Maidenhead counterparts, fans saw 16 Bletchley tries and more than 100 points scored.
Winger Jamie Parker went over for the opening try of the game after 12 minutes, with Dave Coleman adding the conversion.
Dagan Probert powered over for a second Bletchley try on 20 minutes before Ryan Cane made it 17-0 with another in the corner.
And it only took Bletchley half an hour to secure a bonus point – Kev Turnbull going over under the posts after a good offload from Probert.
This time Coleman was on target with the extra points and Bletchley were 24-0 to the good. The visitors weren’t ready to roll over yet though and they responded with a penalty from Mike Virgo just before half time.
However, the opening 20 minutes of the second half saw Bletchley run riot to take a commanding 44-3 lead before letting Maidenhead restore a bit of pride with a late flourish.
The first of their points was from the boot of Coleman with a penalty after Simon Pitfield had produced a great double tackle and forced the visitors into crossing the line in front of the posts.
Pitfield then ran home Bletchley’s fifth try from a driving maul and four minutes later Jim Miller got in on the act after great play from Tim Stobbs and Pitfield, with Coleman on target with the conversion.
And an incredible period of rugby from Bletchley was soon completed in style by Jamie Parker who chased down a Turnbull chip down the wing to collect and run home with ease.
The game turned on its head in the final quarter though as Maidenhead woke up and scored a couple of tries courtesy of Richie Craig.
Bletchley were then reduced to 14 men and the visitors were able to run in a third try to give the scoreline a bit of respectability to it. They would not earn a scoring bonus point though as Bletchley, back to 15 players, finished the game strongly.
They were denied a couple of tries in the closing stages, with Stobbs in particular going close to scoring, but at this stage it didn’t matter and the hosts celebrated picking up a valuable five league points, keeping them eighth in the table.
>> Olney’s woes continued as they went down 25-5 at home to Reading Abbey, keeping them bottom of the table with eight defeats from their nine games.