Rugby round-up: Olney downed after failing to score again

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OLNEY’S shocking start to the South West 1 East League season continued with a crushing 31-0 home defeat to high-flying Maidenhead on Saturday, seeing them slip to the bottom of the table for the first time.

It’s now six defeats from their first seven games for Olney who dropped to the foot of the pile as Buckingham recorded a surprise victory against Swanage & Wareham.

And things don’t get much easier with a long trip to table toppers Coney Hill this Saturday. The Gloucestershire outfit are new to the league, but have won their opening seven matches to lead the way from Maidenhead, while Olney are now left four points adrift of Buckingham at the wrong end.

Saturday was the day of the club’s past players’ lunch at East Street, so there was a good crowd on show to lend support to Olney’s current crop.

But unfortunately it proved another day to forget, and more worrying than the defeat itself is the fact that Olney again failed to register a single point on the board, a week after their 48-0 thrashing at Swanage.

Maidenhead kicked off and Olney’s hopes of a surprise win were upset as early as the second minute when the visitors ran in their first of five tries.

The home side suffered another setback when Charlie Belcher had to leave the pitch following a blow to his hand, replaced by Ross Stewart.

However, Olney came close to a try of their own when Maidenhead were penalised at a scrum and a good kick to touch saw the hosts close is. The ball was then won from the resulting lineout, but the visitors’ pack forced Olney to retreat after they had got to within 10 metres of the line.

And that missed opportunity came back to haunt them just a few minutes later as Maidenhead scored a second unconverted try to lead 10-0, which it remained at the break.

Olney enjoyed a period of pressure at the start of the season half and got to within five meters of the line before again seeing the chance go begging.

From then on Maidenhead hit back and took control, stretching their lead with a third try – this time converted – to take the game away from Olney.

They made a couple of changes as captain Chris Parnham and Ken Jones made way, replaced by Kev Smith and Phil Berry, but by this stage the game was up and another converted try saw the visitors’ lead out to 24 points.

Apart from attempting to gain a territorial advantage by targeting the touchline from penalty kicks, Olney were unable to put together a decent scoring opportunity.

Instead it was the visitors who got the final score as they ran home a fifth try of the day, again converted, to seal an excellent away win – despite being reduced to 14 men – which saw them climb from fourth to second place in the table.

Next Tuesday evening (October 25) sees Olney hosting a special memorial match in memory of Chris Talbot who sadly died in a motorcycle accident in August.

He was involved with the club for over 30 years as a regular first team player and then club treasurer. All are welcome to attend from 7.30pm.

>> Bletchley lost 22-13 to Salisbury and remain eighth in the South West 1 East League. Brett Stanisford and Tim Stobbs scored tries and Phil Harman kicked a penalty to see Bletchley lead, but the visitors fought back to win.