Derby win secures championship for Bletchley

Bletchley win the championship. Pic: Jon Anderson (Anderson Photographics)
Bletchley win the championship. Pic: Jon Anderson (Anderson Photographics)

Bletchley have been completed the double after beating rivals Milton Keynes on Saturday to secure the Southern Counties North championship.

Having already lifted the Bucks Shield earlier in the season, Bletchley travelled to Emerson Valley knowing a win would lift them above Aylesbury and win the title with a game still to play.

And the 37-22 victory not only ensured victory in the local derby, but also the double.

“The party went long into the night,” said Head Coach Stuart Van Rooyen. “It has been a remarkable season and well deserved for the players.

“We are pretty humble, but to win it on Milton Keynes’ turf, against our neighbours and rivals, was great too.

“They were great hosts but made us work to win the title.

“We enjoyed a few drinks with them after the game before going back to Bletchley to celebrate a bit more!”

With just two defeats to their name this season, Bletchley have shown no signs of a hangover after being relegated last year.

But wrapping up the title with a game still to play has put to bed the disappointment of last year.

Van Rooyen said: “We were desperately unlucky on the last day of last season to get relegated, but I suppose you get what you deserve.

“This season though, we’ve learned how to win again, and that will fill us with confidence going in to next season.

“Of course credit has to go to the captain Matt Nobes, but also to Phil Harman who has done a tremendous job with the boot.

“Josh Bewley has been brilliant, and has been picked for the England deaf team, and Will Garrett who has been our leading try scorer even though he missed the first six weeks.

“Putting the stats together, everyone who has played has contributed, and as a coach you can’t ask for any more than that.”

The stakes couldn’t have been much higher when Bletchley arrived at Emerson Valley on Saturday.

Both sides knew that more than bragging rights were at stake, though with Milton Keynes’ season coming off the rails somewhat in recent weeks, they were desperate to spoil the potential party Bletchley had planned.

And they looked like doing just that as they raced into a 19-6 lead.

“They were more clinical than we were,” said Van Rooyen. “They only really had three attacks, but they scored with them, while we looked good but couldn’t score.”

Bletchley though mounted a stellar comeback to not only haul back the home side, but to overcome them and take the lead, and with it, the 37-22 victory.

Van Rooyen said: “A lot of credit has to go to the forwards coach Pete Garrett. While other teams have tired late in the day, our guys have found a second wind.

“After years of coaching them, the players are finally listening to him!

“In the last 20 minutes or so, we stood up for ourselves and in front of a decent crowd we made sure we weren’t going to let it go to the last game.”

That last game comes next Saturday against Swindon College Old Boys - the team Bletchley ran 101 points against earlier in the season.

And although the title is wrapped, Van Rooyen isn’t going to take any prisoners, and wants to sign the season off with another huge victory.

He said: “We aren’t going to let off the gas pedal - I want to go down there and put another 100 points on the board against them.

“We did it earlier in the season, and I want to do it again. I won’t be resting any players.

“We’re going there to win and win big.”