Rugby round-up: City on course for promotion

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Milton Keynes remain on course to secure promotion from the Southern Counties North league this season after Saturday’s comfortable 41-24 home win over Wallingford.

With just two matches left to play, City hold a one-point lead over Grove at the top of the table, but Buckingham – three points behind with a game in hand – also remain a serious threat.

City welcome local rivals Olney to Emerson Valley on Saturday before they travel to Grove for what looks set to be the title decider on April 20.

But with Buckingham also hitting form at the right time, the league trophy could yet be on display at Thatcham on the final day of the season.

On a beautiful, dry, sunny day in Milton Keynes, only a win would do for City against Wallingford, and they wasted little time before opening the scoring – their first try from Dan Pearson in the left corner after nine minutes, converted by Phil Powell.

City settled into the game and showed their dominance in tackling and running, but Wallingford were dominant in the pack, with tight head prop Richard Hill unable to show his strength having suffered a back injury in the warm-up.

He was replaced by Carl Cappellano who played his best game of the season for 75 minutes, with Wallingford’s backs unable to break City’s line.

And with a turnover ball it was another backs move that saw winger Gavin Whitehead run in for City’s second try in the right hand corner.

Try number three quickly followed as Dan Rolfe weaved his way through with just 17 minutes on the clock. His 13th try of the season was again too far wide to be converted, but the hosts were in total control.

Pearson demonstrated a quintessential display of his speed and agility to score two more tries before the break, with the bonus points secure.

Wallingford came fighting back after the break with two quick tries to give themselves hope, but their chances were over when Gavin Whitehead went through for City’s sixth try, converted by Powell.

Wallingford didn’t go down without a fight as they scored two further tries to restore some pride. But City had the final say as Alex Trivino ran from 20 metres out to get the home side’s seventh score in the final minute.

Olney weren’t able to do City in favours in their final home fixture of the season, going down 31-10 to Grove.

Chris Small scored Olney’s only try of the game as they held the visitors to 18-10 at the break, but the Oxfordshire side showed their class in the second half to seal the win.

In the South West 1 East League, Bletchley picked up a crucial 21-17 win over Witney in their final home outing of the season.

With two away games left to play, starting on Saturday at Old Centralians, Bletchley could do with one more win to be sure of survival. But taking on the league’s top two sides, including leaders Bracknell on the final day, that won’t be easy.

That made victory against Witney so crucial, and it came thanks to tries from George Coote. Steve Allen and Chris Coussell at Manor Fields.