Bletchley and Stow-on-the-Wold treated the fans gathered at Manor Fields to a treat as they shared a 27-27 draw on Saturday.
Bletchley took an early lead 3-0 through a Phil Harman penalty in the second minute of the game, but after that it was all dominance by the visitors, who then scored a well taken try in the fifth minute of the game as they stretched Bletchley’s defensive line to score in the left hand corner of the pitch. The conversion kick took Stow into a narrow 7-3 lead.
Bletchley’s hooker Tom Perkins made a good break after the restart and the home side should have made more of the possession that then came their way, but Stow’s defence was equal to the challenge and forced a turnover from which they made hard yardage to get into Bletchley’s 22. A good tackle by winger David Keating ensured the forwards had time to get back to defend their try line.
Bletchley did reduce the arrears to 7-6 in the 19th minute as Harman slotted a penalty from 30 metres following Stow’s ill-discipline at the breakdown.
Stow doubled their try tally in the 25th minute with a well worked move through the hands after a good lineout take. With the ball moving through the hands quickly, Stow found themselves in space which they exploited efficiently to score. The conversion went wide in the wind, but Stow had extended the lead to 12-6, which they took with them into the break.
The visitors appeared to have the win in the bag when, shortly after the restart, they extended their lead to 19-6, but Bletchley rallied and came back into it as Reggie Njovana scored Bletchley’s second try of the afternoon. Harman added the extras and Bletchley were right back in the match 19-13.
Stow opened the gap again with a penalty kick, but with Bletchley on top, their pressure eventually told as Harman scored a cheeky try with a chip ahead which he gathered to score under the posts. His conversion put Bletchley just two points behind 22-20.
Harman added another try seven minutes later as he intercepted a Stow pass in their own 22 to score a converted try, finally putting Bletchley in the lead for the first time since the second minute. Bletchley had six minutes to hang onto their 27 – 22 lead.
There was a sense of urgency as the game came to a close. Harman yet again kicked ahead to find a perfect touch. Stow dealt with the pressure well and played themselves out of the 22 with precision to find themselves in Bletchley’s 22. For the first time in a while, Bletchley’s normally efficient lineout went astray and Stow somehow managed to steal the ball and score their fourth try of the game. The conversion went wide and the score with 42 minutes played was a 27 – 27 draw.
There was still time to play and Bletchley tried to work the ball from the restart back to Harman for a drop goal to steal the close encounter. However, the breeze took the ball tantalisingly past the post with the last play of the game.