Bletchley coming to terms with shock relegation

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Fate dramatically conspired against Bletchley on Saturday as a bizarre set of results led to their relegation out of the South West 1 East League on the final day of the season.

Going into their final day trip to Bracknell, who needed a win to seal the league title, Bletchley were looking fairly comfortable in eighth place in the table – four places above the drop zone.

A crushing 66-5 defeat to the champions followed, but Bletchley were then stunned to learn that Newbury Blues, Marlow and Cheltenham had all recorded wins – the latter securing a 30-25 victory over Witney which saw the Manor Fields side go down on points difference.

It was an extremely harsh outcome for Bletchley after a fairly strong season that saw them pick up seven wins out of their 26 games, plus a very impressive 15 bonus points.

They also finished some 24 points ahead of the two sides below them, whose relegation had already been confirmed in considerably less hard-to-take circumstances.

It means Bletchley will join local rivals Milton Keynes and Olney playing in the Southern Counties North League next season – not that a couple of exciting local derbies will be much consolation this week.

Coach Stuart Van Rooyen blames a lack of availability in recent months as the reason behind their decline.

Milton Keynes did have a chance to replace Bletchley in the South West 1 East, but their promotion hopes came to an end with a 50-24 defeat at Grove.

City had topped the table a couple of weeks earlier, but defeat at home to Olney cost them dearly and meant they travelled to Grove needing a bonus point win to finish the season in a play-off place.

But it wasn’t to be as Grove ran out convincing winners to keep hold of second place and earn a promotion play-off tie against the runners-up in the Southern Counties South.

Buckingham’s late surge saw them clinch the title, as Olney finished fifth in their first season in the division following their own relegation last year.