Thatcham let it slip
Aylesbury 37 Thatcham 27
Aylesbury’s all weather pitch certainly provided plenty of grip, but in spite of all that Thatcham let the game slip away in the final ten minutes, just as they looked about to increase their lead. With the best of the early passages of play, Thatcham were punished for failing to get points on the board after a big drive into the Ay’s 22 saw Tim Apperley pulled down a metre short. Moments later, Thorogood and Dixon combined well for the latter to be stopped only inches short of the whitewash.
Thatcham’s bright start seemed to bode well, but as the game approached the fifteen minute mark, and on their first real sortie, Aylesbury won a penalty to put first points on the board from the boot of full back, Shearer. Another penalty saw the home side take a line out from 25 metres. They moved the ball well and created space down the flanks to score out wide and take an 8 – 0 lead, missing the conversion. Thatcham responded with deep incursions from Marty Butler and Jack Harwood, but couldn’t breach the home defence. The visitors were looking menacing, but unforced errors had started to creep in and Aylesbury took advantage with another penalty conversion to build an eleven point lead.
As the first half drew to a close, Thatcham skipper Mark Smith led a break out from deep in their own half with Derek Allan in support. Aylesbury finally held their line five metres out, but the visitors recycled and James Thorogood, this week at tight head, went over for the score near the posts giving Leadley an easy conversion. Thatcham had the better of the final exchanges, with Smith continuing to prove a thorn in Aylesbury’s side, but the score remained 11 – 7 at the break.
Aylesbury came out of the blocks at pace as the match resumed and had gone further ahead within 3 minutes after frenetic rearguard action from the visitors failed to prevent Aylesbury tight head, Wilton, from going over and Shearer adding the extras to move them into an 18 – 7 lead. But Thatcham responded promptly to reduce the deficit from a line out on the Ay’s 22. Thatcham’s Newbury Building Society man of the match, Derek Allan, jinked into space to put Joe Leadley in the clear with the line beckoning under the posts. Leadley duly delivered the conversion and a couple of minutes later was back to plant a fine long range penalty to make it 18 – 17 with half an hour left.
What might have been the game changer came as the match entered the final quarter after another fine break from fly half, Derek Allan. Thatcham were held up over the line and awarded a 5 metre scrum. Once again the visitors drove forward, but the scrum collapsed on the Aylesbury side. At that moment the ball popped out of the scrum on the blind side, but rather than re-set the scrum the official allowed the game to proceed and Aylesbury ran the length of the pitch for a hardly earned seven pointer. Thatcham were rocked back by this for a while, but held on until good work from winger, Liam Rowland, put Derek Allan in for the try, converted by Leadley. With ten minutes left on the clock Thatcham retained the advantage and a Leadley penalty put them in front 25 – 27 for the first time in the game.
But it was to be Aylesbury who grasped the initiative in the final minutes as a well worked move found space wide to run round the Thatcham defence. Leadley tried to intercept, but added to his yellow card collection for a deliberate knock on. The Ay’s took a tap penalty from 10 metres out, which was hardly contested and the five points took them back into the lead. With only seconds left, Aylesbury worked another fine move down the left flank, taking good advantage of the extra man to create lots of space to run round and ground for another seven points and deny Thatcham a losing bonus point.
In the end, it was another story of the opposition taking their opportunities, and Aylesbury’s victory moves them above Thatcham in the table.
Thatcham complete their league programme next week with a home fixture against Buckingham, kick off 3pm.
1. Lewis Davies; 2. Jamie Evans; 3. James Thorogood; 4. Jack Moore ; 5. Rich Browne (Russ Adamson); 6. Tim Apperley (Martyn Doolin); 7. Chris Dixon; 8. Mark Smith, Captain); 9. Danny Shaughnessy; 10. Derek Allan; 11. Liam Rowland; 12. Sam Smith; 13. Marty Butler; 14. Jack Harwood; 15. Joe Leadley
Replacement: Nick Rance
Tries: Thorogood; Leadley; Allan
Conversions: Leadley (3)
Penalty: Leadley (2)