THESE are exciting times for Milton Keynes RUFC who are enjoying life both on and off the pitch at present.
After some 37 years at Greenleys, City are set to move six miles down the road to Emerson Valley in April for the start of a brand new chapter in the club’s 140-year history.
It has been a long time coming for City who should have moved to their new council-owned premises in 2010, but after almost a year of delays the waiting is over and the first team are set to play their first game their in a couple of weeks.
And as the club looks to move onto bigger and better things off the field, things are currently going extremely well on the pitch too, as City made it three league wins on the bounce, and six from their last seven games, when they beat near neighbours Aylesbury.
That victory saw City leapfrog over Aylesbury and into third place in the Southern Counties North table ahead of another big game on Sunday, three days after the club collect the keys to the Emerson Valley site.
City entertain Buckingham in their Lewis Shield quarter final tie in what will be their last ever outings at their old Greenleys home. The rules of the competition are complicated, but all that matters for the sides involved is the final will be played at Franklin’s Gardens - the home of Northampton Saints.
It’s then back to league action with a fixture at Broadmoor Staff the next weekend, before the club play host to Chipping Norton at Emerson Valley, although City will leave their official opening until the following weekend with Beaconsfield the opposition.
The last league game at Greenleys was fittingly a classic as City saw off Aylesbury 29-27, with the outcome in the balance right up to the end of 19 minutes of stoppage time!
Andy Champ got the hosts off to a great start as he touched down after only a couple of minutes, before the visitors replied to level the scores as both kickers missed attempts for the extra two points.
City have mastered the push over try to an art form this season, and it wasn’t long before they were back in front through Kerien McConnell and Phil Powell successfully converted.
Just before the half hour mark the visitors scored again, and after both sides lost a man to the sin bin, it was City who went into the break looking good as Dave Matthews went over to score and Powell was on target again to make it 19-10.
Twenty minutes of the second half had been played before Aylesbury got in again with a converted try, but the visitors weren’t just two points adrift for long as Andy Poole finished a fine move to score, Powell converting.
After several injuries there was to be plenty of added time, and right at the start of it Aylesbury bridged the gap to 26-22 with an unconverted try, but Powell soon converted a penalty for a seven-point City lead.
The drama wasn’t over yet though and when Aylesbury went over again a draw looked on the cards. However, the crucial conversion attempt was missed and City held on at 29-27.
Bletchley’s South West One East league woes continued on Saturday as a patched up side slipped to their worst defeat of the season.
Their 49-5 reverse at Reading was their 15th of the season and keeps them rooted to third from bottom of the table, with plenty of injured players still watching from the sidelines.
The Berkshire side were 27-0 up at the interval and extended their lead to 32 points before a John Kirwan try saw Bletchley off the mark.
Reading pushed on after that to complete a comfortable win, but to their credit Bletchley dug deep and never gave in, but will need a better performance this Saturday when they entertain Wallingford - the side directly above them in the table.
The senior team may still be struggling, but Bletchley did get something to cheer about when the club’s U9s squad won their age group section at the Market Harborough Festival on Sunday.
They went undefeated in five matches and beat local rivals Olney 20-0 in the final.
Olney’s seniors produced an excellent performance in seeing off Wallingford 36-24 thanks to five tries from four players.
Liam Lancaster was the star with two, and there were also scores from Johnathan Brice, Gareth Cahill and Adam Kelsall, plus four conversions and a penalty from James Hawken.