Rugby round-up: City breach the top two

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MILTON Keynes look well placed to make the end of season play-off for promotion after seeing off local rivals Aylesbury 27-3 to move up to second place in the table.

With rivals Windsor and Grove having the weekend off, City’s win has seen them jump two places into the play-off place in the Southern Counties North League, as table toppers Beaconsfield appear home and dry to secure automatic promotion.

If City finish second then they will face the runners-up of the Southern Counties South League – currently Sherborne – in an end of season play-off for the right to play at level six next season.

Windsor and Grove will leapfrog back above City if they win their games in hand, but the Emerson Valley outfit still have to play both in March, so their destiny could yet be in their own hands.

Struggling Wallingford are next up this Saturday before those two crucial games, but City will have to start better than they did at Aylesbury where a lacklustre first half saw them lucky to be drawing 3-3 at the break – Phil Powell kicking City’s penalty before the hosts followed suit.

Words were obviously exchanged at the interval as City came out for the second half more fired up and with their minds on job at hand.

Darren Broderick got too enthusiastic at a ruck which resulted in 10 minutes in the sin bin, but his team-mates remained focused and City stayed on top – without being able to trouble the scoreboard.

Aylesbury still maintained a threat and some weak tackling in the middle of the park gave the hosts some opportunities to make inroads and City were forced into some last ditch defending.

However, Broderick’s return sparked City back into life and they soon began to earn the scoring rewards for their efforts as prop Kierran McConnell went over in the corner for their opening try with the help of skipper Richard Hill.

Powell’s conversion attempt narrowly missed, but the floodgates were now open and City took full advantage to make the win safe – Dan Rolphe running home try number two after a great break down the wing by Rob Mathews, and Powell kicked the extras.

Hill and McConnell combined again for the latter to score his second try, thanks also to some fine work by Miles Donnelly as City stretched their lead further. And there was still time for the visitors to seal a bonus point as Scott Aspinall scored an excellent individual try, with Powell again on target to convert.

There big defeats for both Olney and Bletchley in South West 1 East League as they travelled to face the division’s top two sides. Olney lost 71-5 away to table toppers Maidenhead and Bletchley went down 44-3 at Salisbury. Bletchley Ladies lost 31-10 to Peterborough, with Alana Walsh scoring their two tries.