Rugby round-up: City continue to keep pace at the top

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FOLLOWING their superb victory against title chasing Beaconsfield last time out, Milton Keynes maintained their push for promotion with a 66-24 beating of lowly Slough on Saturday.

Beaconsfield were thrashed 38-7 seven days earlier, and with the league leaders having the weekend off, City and the rest of the Southern Counties North chasing pack were able to take advantage. Indeed, victory for Grove over Windsor saw them replace Beaconsfield at the top, with City six points back in fourth.

Only the league winners are promoted automatically, but City will get the chance to follow them if they finish in second and can beat the runners-up from Southern Counties South in a promotion play-off.

Four points now separate the men from Emerson Valley and Wootton Bassett who currently occupy second place, but City now have momentum – victory over Slough on Saturday was their fourth in a row – and they have a favourable run of fixtures, starting with a trip to Aylesbury next time out.

It took them only six minutes to score their first points in Berkshire – Dan Rolfe powering over from 25 metres out before Phil Powell added the conversion. And the visitors were at it again shortly afterwards as captain Richard Hill took the pass from Stuart Tomkinson to crash over and score under the posts, with Powell converting.

Slough were battling up field against the wind, but managed to cut the gap a few minutes later when they fed the ball out wide to score. However, City’s Gavin Whitehead then took centre stage as he ran home the visitors’ next score. Powell converted again but then saw a yellow card before the break and Slough were able to have the last shout in the half as City went in 33-12 to the good.

The visitors were kicking into the wind after the break but that didn’t stop them adding to their score – Terence Woodhall the next to go over and Powell returned in time to add the extras.

Slough’s forwards thought it was the time for them to take control of the ball to try and stop the bombardment of attacks from City. They were rewarded with a try of their own, but within five minutes their hard work was undone as Woodhall went over in corner.

Powell stood no chance of converting in the wind, but he didn’t have to wait long to add to his own personal tally as he beat a couple of men before scoring himself, and then converted his own try.

Slough, still working hard to keep the score to a reasonable level, managed to score another try late on, giving them a bonus point for their efforts.

However, the home side didn’t get the final say as Rolfe ran home his hat-trick try to complete a fine individual display, and there was still time for another when Richard Hill ploughed through and Powell converted to take his points tally to 19.

Unfortunately MK have this weekend off before taking on Aylesbury on February 4, keen to build on another fantastic win and maintain their momentum.

Bletchley lost 25-20 to Buckingham in the South West 1 East League, while Olney fell 67-0 at Salisbury.

Jim Miller got Bletchley off to a great start with an early try, converted by Phil Harman who soon added a penalty after the visitors scored their own three points.

Things got even better for Bletchley as Matt Nobes scored their second try, with Harman on target again to make it 17-3 to the hosts. However, Buckingham hit back to lead at the break and by the time that Harman added another three points the game was up.