Bletchley Ladies' Intermediate Cup stint ended at the quarter final stage on Sunday as they were beaten 24-15 by Novocastrian Ladies.
It was always going to be a big ask of Bletchley - Novocastrian, from Newcastle, play a division above Bletchley, and they currently sit fourth in the table.
Bletchley took the opening kick; Novocastrians took the catch and worked through a few phases before giving a penalty, with Bletchley kicked to touch. They won the lineout and set up a maul, which powered them well into the Novocastrian territory, only to have the pass out from the maul intercepted. The visitors took full advantage and pushed the Bletchley defence.
Bletchley dug in and held Novocastrians in their own half, waiting for their next opportunity. Their patience paid off, with a knock on from the visitors on the half way line. Bletchley held their scrum, then passed the ball back and forth through the hands. The visitors were not going to make it easy, but eventually Bletchley pushed them back and worked towards the try line. The first attempt at points, from Rachael Taylor, was held up, but a couple of minutes later the perseverance paid off, and Georgia Green put on a spurt and touched the ball down over the line for Bletchley to take the lead, going 5-0 up after 15 minutes.
Bletchley knocked on at the restart, giving Novocastrians an opening. They took full advantage, moving up to the Bletchley line. Bletchley gave everything, holding up the first attempt, but just five minutes after the opening try, Novocastrians equalised at 5-5.
The restart was a mirror of the previous one, giving Bletchley another opening, which they took full advantage of; a great move through the hands of Charlotte Gallop, Olivia Calloway, Taylor and Caroline Collie took the ball out again to Green to move the score on to 10-5.
There followed a period of stalemate, with both teams defending hard, looking for the next opening. Eventually Novocastrians got the advantage and pushed forward. After 10 minutes of stalwart defending, seeing Clare Stacey putting in a hard try saving tackle, the visitors broke through the defence to equalise: 10-10.
Five minutes later, in the last play of the half, they took another, this time with a conversion, to leave the half time score 17-10 in favour of the visitors.
The second half was just as hard fought from both teams as the first, with possession moving back and forth. Novocastrians really moved the ball well and clearly demonstrated why they sit where they do in their league, but Bletchley made strenuous efforts to up their game in an attempt to match them. Despite this, the visitors persistently crept up the pitch, and 15 minutes in moved further ahead with their fourth try, also converted, to pull ahead to 24-10
But back came the home side, and after forcing six penalties from the visitors, Stacey looped around the defence to put the ball down to close the gap to 24-15 with 10 minutes to play.
With Novocastrians suddenly wary of Bletchley's late threat, they shut up shop, denying the home side of a last-gasp victory, taking with them a place in the semi finals.