City close in on promotion place with 13th straight win

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JUST two points separate Milton Keynes and league leaders Reading Abbey after the city side edged a 13-12 victory over local rivals Aylesbury on Saturday.

City’s 13th league win on the spin keeps them third in the table, level on points with second placed Grove and just two adrift of Abbey – but crucially with a game in hand on both sides.

Grove had gone into the weekend sitting at the top of the pile, but suffered a second defeat in as many weeks to surrender that place to Abbey who saw off Thatcham.

That means City are now hot favourites to secure the automatic promotion place, with a trip to Tadley next up this Saturday as they look to maintain their incredible run of winning form.

Apart from their derby at Buckingham, the big match at Grove on March 23 would appear to be City’s only major test as they look to clinch promotion after missing out on the play-offs last year.

The men from Emerson Valley were not at their best at Aylesbury, but they still did enough to take the points, with Phil Powell opening the scoring via the boot.

With few try scoring opportunities in the first half, a second Powell penalty gave City a 6-0 lead at the interval.

Aylesbury dominated play at the start of the season half, but City held firm and were able to score the first try of the game when Darren Brodrick crashed through. Powell’s conversion was good and the visitors were in command.

Aylesbury took control of much of the remainder of the game, although the City defence didn’t allow them to make much headway until close to the end.

With 10 minutes left Stuart Tomkinson received a yellow card and Aylesbury took advantage to score a penalty try under the posts, which was duly converted.

The referee generously allowed some 16 minutes of injury time, and Aylesbury were able to score a further try from the back of a scrum. But fortunately for the away side, the conversion attempt missed the target and City held on for a priceless win.

Also victorious were Olney who had a 54-7 home win against Alchester, courtesy of tries from Paddy Leahy (3), Nick Kelsall (2), Steve Harrison (2) and Jonathan Brice as Jordan Letts added seven conversions.

>> Bletchley gave high-flying Swindon a good run for their money at Manor Fields and were unlucky to lose the game 29-22.

The visitors took the lead in the South West 1 East league clash with a converted try before Phil Harman kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit for Bletchley.

They then took the lead in spectacular style from the restart. George Coote’s kick fell kindly for Matt Nobes who claimed the ball just short of the halfway line and ran straight towards the posts.

There were a couple of players to beat, but he weaved his way past them to score under the posts on his return from a long injury layoff. Harman converted to put the home side 10-7 ahead.

However, there was a blow for Bletchley when Carl Miller and Coote clashed heads as they prevented Swindon from scoring and were taken to hospital for stitches.

And the visitors took advantage of the situation to score what would prove a vital second try before the interval to take the lead by just two points at 12-10.

Bletchley were slow out of the blocks in the second half, with Swindon scoring two quick converted tries in just nine minutes to take control of proceedings.

The hosts weren’t done yet and from a scrum Simon Pitfield went through to get Bletchley’s second try of the contest. Phil Harman converted, and then scored a try of his own to bring his team to within four points at 22-26.

That was as close as they were to come though and Swindon made sure of victory with a converted penalty. Bletchley pushed hard for another try late on, but it wasn’t to be their day.