Rugby round-up: City fight back for superb win

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MILTON Keynes maintained their push for Southern Counties North promotion after producing an incredible comeback to win at Wallingford on Saturday, ahead of yet another crucial weekend.

City’s 36-25 win keeps them in second place with just four games left to play, but the balance of power is still with the two sides hot on their heels with Windsor and Grove also winning on Saturday, plus they both still have a game in hand.

But that could all change this Saturday when City entertain fourth placed Grove, before visiting Windsor a week later, with those two games likely to determine who will finish as runners up to Beaconsfield and claim that all important play-off spot.

City are still unbeaten in 2012 and their success at Wallingford was their seventh in a row. And the victory was made all the more impressive given the circumstances of the day as veteran second row Michael Lambert dislocated his ankle during the pre-match warm-up after falling badly from a practice lineout.

That sudden change around meant the visitors were all over the place early in the game, and Wallingford caught City out on two occasions to open up a 10-point lead after 10 minutes.

And it soon got even worse when their hosts went over for a third time just five minutes later, this time converted to give them what looked an unassailable lead with less than a quarter of the game gone.

Although shell-shocked, City’s recovery began almost immediately – Stuart Webb taking a quick penalty and seeing captain Richard Hill away to force his way through the Wallingford backline and score.

Phil Powell failed to convert the extras, but City had a vital foothold in the contest mid-way through the first half. However, it looked like it was going to be a miserable day for City moments later when Stuart Tomkinson was shown the red card for an alleged stamp, leaving a City win looking extremely unlikely.

Wallingford soon raced home a fourth try, but City weren’t dead and buried just yet as Dan Rolfe collected Hill’s kick on to score, and reduce the half time deficit to 15 points at 25-10. Little did Wallingford know that they wouldn’t score any points in the second half.

With the wind now at their backs, City’s second half performance was sensational as they showed incredible character and guts to force their way back into the game.

The visitors’ good mauling meant they were more in control – and it wasn’t long before Hill and Rolfe combined again for the latter to score, and this time Powell’s conversion was on target and the gap was down to eight points.

And a further seven points were soon on the board when the referee gave City a penalty try following sustained pressure close to the Wallingford try line, and with 20 minutes still to play, it was suddenly the visitors in the ascendancy

The comeback was complete thanks to a Kieran McConnell try in the corner after a good Dan Walker pass. And City didn’t stop at that, making 30 metres from the restart with an excellent maul and going over for a sixth try, completing a stunning comeback and victory.

Now City’s attention is on Saturday’s home game against Grove, and they will also be hoping that Wallingford are able to do them a favour when they travel to Windsor.

There was a 31-5 defeat for Bletchley at the hands of South West 1 East table toppers Maidenhead on Saturday – Ben Robinson grabbing a late consolation try for the visitors.

And there was a very encouraging performance form Olney who only lost to Reading Abbey by a single point. Fighting back from 13-3 down at the break, Olney scored two second half tries but couldn’t quite do enough to win, losing 16-15.