Rugby round-up: Sloppy City let Olney take early advantage in title race

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OLNEY got the better of Milton Keynes with a 24-17 victory when the two sides met on the opening day of the Southern Counties North league season.

Both sides are expected to be in the running for promotion, but it was Olney – relegated from the South West 1 East League last term – who struck the first blow with a convincing win against an out of sorts City side who finished second in 2011/12.

Neither side played their best rugby, but Olney made more of their chances in very hot conditions to make a great start to the campaign after an even opening 20 minutes.

Olney took the lead following a break from their own 22 metre line after City missed a couple of tackles, allowing the hosts to threaten the visitors’ try line. The Olney attack ended with a knock-on close to the line, but the resulting scrum was scrappy and allowed Olney to regain possession and score the opening try, with the conversion off target.

City struggled with their lineout throughout the game, putting additional pressure on the side. One lost lineout nearly gave Olney a second score after 35 minutes but a knock-on saved City’s blushes.

The let-off didn’t last for long though as following an untidy scrum to the visitors, Olney were able to gain possession and with just five minutes left before the break they scored a second try under the posts. With an easy conversion the hosts were 12 points to the good at half time.

Within five minutes of the second half City finally put some points on the board. Following a successful lineout close to Olney’s try line, the pack was able to drive Ashley Hill over for their first try of the season. Phil Powell successfully converted, making the score 12-7.

Powell soon converted a penalty and City were just two points behind with half an hour still to play. But from the Olney kick-off, City allowed the home side to gain possession and run home a simple try. Although the conversion was missed, the lead was now seven points.

A further try 20 minutes from time put the result beyond doubt, although Dan Rolfe touched down and Powell kicked to make the final score of 24-17 a little more respectable.

City have their first home game this Saturday with Reading Abbey – another team relegated last season – visiting Emerson Valley.

>> It’s two defeats in two for Bletchley after they went down 57-3 at Reading on Saturday.

A week after putting in a brave performance against Bracknell on the opening day, the men from Manor Fields were blown away with just one Phil Harman penalty to show for their efforts.

A home game against Cheltenham this Saturday – who were defeated 78-6 by Bracknell last time out – represents a good opportunity for Bletchley to get off the mark at the third attenpt.