IF LEAGUE form is anything to go by then there was no shock in the Bucks Cup, but Olney certainly gave local rivals Bletchley a big scare before going down 20-24.
Bletchley made the trip to Olney on the back of an impressive league victory over Maidenhead, seeing them sit comfortably in mid-table in the South West 1 East while Olney crashed to an eighth defeat in nine at home to Reading Abbey, keeping them stuck firmly to the foot of the table.
But the two sides’ league form counted for nothing when they went head-to-head for a place in the county cup semi-finals on Saturday as Bletchley needed to score an injury time try to progress.
Each team is allowed seven substitutes in the competition and Bletchley decided to ring the changes, with coach Stu Van Rooyen selecting 11 players under the age of 22, while Olney also fielded a mixture of youth and experience.
The game started off very one-sided as Olney dominated possession and forced line-outs and scrums. Their pressure paid off after four minutes as John Dolemore’s penalty kick found the middle of the posts for a 3-0 lead.
However, the restart saw the visitors begin to improve and they soon forced a penalty of their own which Dave Coleman successfully converted to level the scores.
After some poor play from both teams, Bletchley were awarded a further penalty which Coleman converted once again to give Bletchley a 6-3 lead after 26 minutes.
From a subsequent ruck Bletchley took possession of the ball, but were awarded another penalty because the home side were holding onto Bletchley players. They played a quick penalty but were brought back by the referee. The visitors therefore decided to go for the posts and Coleman kicked another three points to stretch the Bletchley lead to 9-3.
However, the opening try of the game came from strong running and clever ball movement from Olney which saw captain Chris Parnham run straight through and touch down near the posts. Dolemore got the extras and the hosts were a point to the good after just over half an hour.
But their lead was to be short lived as Bletchley flyhalf Jim Miller produced an excellent run to score an immediate reply for the visitors, with Coleman converting to make it 16-10 to Bletchley at the break.
Olney were not going to lie down and die though, and the lead changed hands again just after the half time break as the hosts took control – Ollie Caplin breaking away from a scrum 10 metres out to go over for Olney’s second try of the game, which Dolemore converted again to give his side a 17-16 advantage.
Their lead was increased to 10 points moments later when some indiscipline at a scrum from the visitors saw Olney given a penalty and Dolemore was on target to convert again.
However, from then on Bletchley took the game by the scruff of the neck. This time it was Olney’s turn to be penalised and Bletchley reduced the gap to a single point through a Coleman penalty with 15 minutes remaining.
But for all their huffing and puffing the away side failed to take their chance while on top, missing further penalty attempts and seeing good moves break down.
Olney looked set for a morale-boosting win, but in the 82nd minute Dagan Probert used his sheer strength and determination to power his way through Olney’s defence to score the game winning try, Coleman’s conversion attempt was missed, but that didn’t matter as Bletchley held on for a 24-20 win.
>> Bletchley’s ladies were on the end of a 37-0 defeat to Tabard Ladies in their second game of the season.