City sense promotion after perfect day

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Finally Milton Keynes had luck on their side as they thrashed Thatcham 58-22 to climb to the top of the Southern Counties North league for the first time this season – going into the final month of it.

While there was no luck required in their routine beating of Thatcham at Emerson Valley, City were left celebrating the news that title rivals Reading Abbey had suffered a shock defeat at Wallingford.

And with the games involving Buckingham and Grove postponed due to the torrential rain, City would end the day top of the pile, and suddenly looking in fantastic shape to win promotion.

Their biggest threat now seems to come from Buckingham – four points behind with a game in hand – but City must travel to third placed Grove this Saturday, where the league title could well be won or lost.

After a couple of recent defeats, including one at the hands of Buckingham, City’s promotion push appeared to have faltered, but last week’s victory over Drifters was followed up by an even more emphatic display against Thatcham.

Rob Matthews got the ball rolling with the first try inside two minutes, with Phil Powell adding the conversion. But that lead was short-lived as Thatcham responded in kind to level the game at 7-7 with less than five minutes on the clock.

Powell was on the scoresheet again soon after though, as he collected the ball from a scrappy Thatcham lineout and raced through to score, before adding the extras himself to restore the home side’s advantage.

And City’s lead was increased further when Dan Rolfe collected the ball from the back of a scrum and powered his way over. However, Thatcham remained a threat and took advantage of a lapse in concentration from the hosts to score their second try of the afternoon, converted to make the score 19-12.

There was no end to the scoring though and once again City responded with a Gavin Whitehead try to make sure of their bonus point, with Powell on target with the extras. Matt Styles was the next to score after good work from Rob Lasbrey, and at half time City were well in control.

Darren Brodrick was the next to score following another run by Lasbrey, with yet another Powell conversion stretching City’s lead further. But the visitors hadn’t quite given up yet and score twice in quick succession to give the scoreline a more respectable feel about it from their point of view.

But City would finish the game on the front foot, with their back to form rucking being too much for a tired Thatcham to cope with – Jaime Trivino getting his name on the board after coming on as a replacement flanker.

Richard Hill then went over to score following a quickly taken penalty before Rolfe completed the scoring with five minutes to play with a fantastic individual run down the left wing.

All eyes are now concentrated on Saturday’s big game at Grove, where a win would all but secure City promotion, while defeat could mean another season in the Southern Counties North league.