UNFORCED errors costs Bletchley as they crashed 38-15 to Buckingham in a game they couldn’t afford to lose.
In a battle of third bottom against fourth bottom, it was the team from down the A421 who earned the local bragging rights, piling the pressure back on Bletchley after their recent South West 1 East revival.
Two successive wins had seen the city side give themselves breathing space near the foot of the table, but after their loss and a win for second bottom Oakmeadians over Reading Abbey, the best Bletchley can hope for now is third bottom and survival.
Only two tries in the final quarter of the game gave the final scoreline some respectability for Bletchley as Buckingham moved the ball around quickly and cleanly to seize control of the first half proceedings.
Bletchley passed poorly, failed to tackle properly, and could not even catch the ball at times. And it came as little surprise when Buckingham opened the scoring at Manor Fields with a converted try just a couple of minutes in.
The hosts came back strongly and after a period of pressure they were off the mark through a penalty from flyhalf Phil Harman. But after their lead was reduced to four points, the visitors hit back with vengeance as they stole the ball from a Bletchley pass and ran half the length of the field to touch down, the conversion seeing them 14-3 to the good.
Buckingham extended their lead further in the closing stages of the first half thanks to a penalty in front of the posts, while the best Bletchley could muster was a missed kick from Harman.
Bletchley’s tackling was flimsy at best, apart from that of lock Adam Dempsey who threw himself at just about everything, although in doing so he damaged his shoulder and had to be replaced by Stu Van Rooyen.
The home side’s kicking was also poor and they gave possession back to Buckingham when perhaps they should have carried the ball on. The visitors were able to take advantage and soon extended their lead to 31-3, which could have been worse but for a disallowed try for a forward pass.
Albeit late on, Bletchley started to pound the Buckingham 22 metre line and got their reward as winger Adam Johnson scored in the corner, which was unconverted by Harman.
Buckingham responded again and breezed past some poor tackling to score a final converted try, before the afternoon at least ended on a positive for Bletchley when Van Rooyen was able to crash over to score the final try, George Harman converting.
With five games to play Bletchley are just a point above Oakmeadians who have a game in hand. The sides clash on the final day of the season, with Bletchley desperate to avoid a second bottom finish.
Olney are also suffering a terrible second half of the season and fell to high-flying High Wycombe, leaving them sixth in South West 1 East.
The game also doubled up as their Bucks Cup semi-final meeting, but it never looked likely to be Olney’s day as Wycombe raced into a 39-0 lead by the interval.
Olney were more involved after the break and tries from James Padfield and Liam Lancaster - one converted by Jordan Letts - saw them close the gap. But Wycombe are sitting third in the table and showed their quality in the closing stages to increase the margin of victory to 51-12.
Milton Keynes are looking good for a strong finish to the season and saw off Windsor 28-24 to record a fourth win in five Southern Counties North games.
Most impressively for City was the fact they recovered from 14-0 down to win it. Kieran McConnell set up Dan Rolf to score their first try, converted by Phil Powell.
Powell then added a penalty before Andy Champ turned provider for Dan Pearson to score. Rob Matthews was next to cross the white line and City were 20-14 to the good at the break.
City survived some pressure when Stuart Tomkinson spent time in the sin bin, and another Powell penalty saw City extend their lead. Pearson’s second try made the win safe, before Windsor bagged two late tries.