Rugby: Bletchley bounce back to secure impressive first win

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BLETCHLEY picked up their first win of the South West 1 East season on Saturday – and did it in style with a 24-21 home success against Cheltenham.

An unlucky home defeat to joint leaders Bracknell was followed by a not so unlucky thrashing away to Reading in Bletchley’s previous two league games, but it was third time lucky for the men from Manor Fields who held on for a morale boosting victory after a stunning first half.

Cheltenham also went into the game on the back of a heavy defeat, to Bracknell, and were blown away in the first few minutes as Bletchley took the game by the scruff of the neck. After going close a couple of times, Tom Hannell eventually broke through to open the scoring, with Phil Harman converting for a 7-0 lead.

And it got even better a few minutes later when great work from Dagan Probert set up Matt Nobes who side-stepped the last defender to touch down. Phil Harman was again on target to convert and the hosts were looking good.

Cheltenham almost reduced the arrears before half time, but a double tackle from Will Garrett and George Harman brought a good move to an end and Bletchley survived to go in at the break with a 14-0 advantage.

Dave Coleman was at the heart of Bletchley’s strong play at the start of the second period, and his efforts brought a penalty which Phil Harman duly converted to extend the home’s side lead.

Four minutes later and Bletchley’s lead was increased further as Hannell went over for his second try of the game. The move started from the restart with Adam Dempsey securing the ball and the hosts being awarded a penalty which Harman kicked to touch.

They were then awarded another penalty at the lineout and again the kick went to touch as Bletchley made good territory. A good take by Coleman and a clean break from Probert then set up Hannell to run in from five yards. Phil Harman added the extras and Bletchley were 24-0 up.

From there the hosts really should have gone on to secure a bonus point for scoring four tries, but instead it was Cheltenham who finished well to give the final score a more respectable look to it.

Playing with freedom and nothing to lose, the visitors turned on the style and Bletchley couldn’t cope. A converted try was soon their reward, and there were a few nerves in the home camp just moments later when Cheltenham touched down again, with the conversion making it 24-14.

Bletchley came close to adding a fourth try, but it didn’t materialise and the visitors continued to show fight with a score of their own to secure a losing bonus point.

With only three points in it there were still a few anxious moments for the hosts, but they held on to pick up their first win of the season, lifting them to 11th place out of 14 ahead of a tough trip to Salisbury.