Milton Keynes 20 Swindon 10
FORM went flying out of the window in this fixture as City bounced back from three straight league defeats to virtually end Swindon’s title hopes.
City had seen their own promotion chances hit the wall in recent weeks, but after losing their last three on the road it was a welcome return to Field Lane on Saturday, where they’ve only lost once all season.
The weather conditions would play a big part and both sides missed early penalty chances to take the initiative - Phil Powell off target with his effort from way out on the wing.
But after a pretty stale opening 35 minutes City started to take control and opened up an 8-0 lead going into the interval. After several scrums in Swindon territory the visitors tried to clear, only for second row Stuart Webb to charge down the clearance and collect the ball to score.
Powell’s conversion attempt missed but he didn’t have to wait long for his next opportunity, clearing the posts with a penalty just after Dan Rolfe’s try was disallowed for a forward pass by Dave Matthews. And to add injury to insult, influential scrum half Dan Pearson was forced off after being hit hard in the build-up to the penalty.
City were in the driving seat, but Swindon - who went into the match sitting second in the table - weren’t quite ready to leave empty handed just yet - reducing the arrears with a penalty after catching City offside in the opening stages of the second half.
The score would never swing out of City’s favour though, and they scored the most important try of the contest on 60 minutes. After rampaging into Swindon’s half, City’s forwards set up a rolling maul just seven metres out, and the visitors were left defenceless as Kieran McConnell broke to score.
Powell’s attempt at the extra points was unsuccessful, but City now had a healthy cushion at 13-3. And that lead was soon stretched further as Rolfe’s efforts were finally rewarded, kicking up field before collecting the ball just short of the line and scoring with the visiting defence hot on his heels.
This time the wind was a bit kinder to Powell and his conversion made it 20-3. Swindon bagged a converted try just before the final whistle, but that was too little too late and City sealed the win to keep them in sixth place in the table as Swindon drop to fourth.
Wimborne 6 Bletchley 8
AFTER narrowly losing out to league leaders Maidenhead a week previous, Bletchley returned to winning ways at basement boys Wimborne, putting some distance between themselves and the bottom two.
After a three hour journey down to Devon, it was probably little surprise that the visitors started sluggishly in the opening minutes. Wimborne took advantage and kicked the first points of the match, and Bletchley were left hanging moments later as the hosts went in search of the first try.
Bletchley were making good breaks through the centre, but were let down by the final pass in what was proving a really scrappy game.
Whoever coped best with the windy conditions were likely to win, and for the first 40 minutes of the match that looked set to be Wimborne after they converted another penalty to make it 6-0 going into the break. The nearest Bletchley came to scoring was via the boot of Phil Harman, but his penalty attempt was held up in the wind and the second half would require lots of improvement if Bletchley were going to avoid defeat in a match they could not afford to lose.
And with the wind now working in their favour the visitors came out for the second half eager to stamp their authority on proceedings. However, the hosts were holding on and in an attempt to change the course of the game Bletchley rang the changes.
Flanker Dougie Webster was one of those to come one and his try would swing the game in Bletchley’s favour. He collected the ball out of a scrum, and after being held up near the line, Bletchley’s pack drove him over.
Harman missed the conversion but the visitors were now sensing victory and didn’t have to wait long for their chance to take the lead. It came when Bletchley were given a penalty - and instead of playing for the try - flyhalf Harman elected to kick for goal.
He kicked the ball beautifully and as expected the wind caught hold of it perfectly and pulled it between the posts for the three points, leaving his side two points ahead and with only 10 minutes left on the clock.
Their victory gives Bletchley some daylight near the bottom of the table, five points ahead of both Wimborne and Oakmeadians.
It was also a good weekend for the 2nds who enjoyed a 36-5 win against Aylesbury and sit top of their league, Tom Grant the star for them.
Olney 33 Oakmedians 14
STRUGGLING Oakmedians were no match for an Olney side getting back to their best, although they did make a pretty good fist of it.
After narrowly seeing off the south coast side 32-30 on their own patch at the start of the campaign, Olney had suffered a dip in form of late, but five tries against the league’s bottom side was more than enough for maximum points.
It took only five minutes for Mark Marwood to open the scoring, James Hawken adding the conversion. John Robinson then went over for Olney’s second before the visitors were able to catch their breath.
And they fell further behind when Robinson scored his second try and Hawken converted. The latter would score 13 of Olney’s points and added his side’s fourth try to make it 26-0.
Oakmedians scored a converted try at the start of the second period, but they never really troubled Olney who were straight back on the attack and scored again, with Robinson making it a hat-trick and Hawken converting.
The visitors scored the final try of the afternoon, but that took nothing away from a good Olney performance as they moved back up to third place in the table.