1XV win in the Forest
By The Real Hummers
Drybrook (5) 10 Bracknell (7) 12
The team from Bracknell Forest headed to the Forest of Dean for this first meeting of the teams at Mannings Ground, Drybrook’s home ground. In the reverse fixture earlier in the season at Lily Hill, the only other time the teams had met, Bracknell came out 30 points to 20 points winners. Drybrook’s last two games had not been easy as they had faced second placed Barnstaple and first placed Bournemouth in consecutive weekends. They still managed to record a fine home win over Barnstaple and as a result they sat 4 league points and two league positions ahead of Bracknell at the start of the game. Both teams were looking for crucial points to lift them above the relegation spots as the countdown to the end of the season commenced.
Following two late changes Chris Laidlaw and Jamie Johnson came into the starting line up as well as the returning Ken Dowling, Leo Bailey and Simon Bayliss. Bracknells game day squad included Nick Ovens who six years ago played for Drybrook ending up at a Twickenham final.
Bracknell received the kick off playing in their changed black strip, the stiff breeze blowing across the pitch not favouring either side.
From the outset it was clear that this match was going to be an attritional affair, the sides evenly matched and neither side giving any quarter reflecting the importance of the game in terms of league positions. This had an early effect as Drybrook had to replace their fly half Stevenson with a hand injury after just ten minutes.
Although Bracknell had made a useful start, they were the first to concede. On the seventeen minute mark full back Winfield collecting an inside pass in the Bracknell 22 broke the Bracknell line to score adjacent to the Bracknell posts. The attempted conversion hitting the upright in the swirling wind, drawing a loud gasp from the crowd.
Moments later Drybrook appeared to have scored again, only to be disallowed for a knock on.
With under five minutes left on the clock an off the ball altercation saw Ken Dowling sent to the sin bin for ten minutes and a Drybrook player sent off for a punch. Drybrook would be required to play the rest of the game with just fourteen players. From the resultant penalty Bracknell had countless attacking phases in the Drybrook twenty two, before Gabe Hills broke a tackle to touch down. Vic Hardwicke slotted the conversion to give Bracknell the lead at half time.
Half time: Drybrook 5 Bracknell 7
With quarter of an hour of the second half gone, Drybrook were further reduced in numbers, loose head prop Hale being shown a yellow card for dissent. With the Drybrook pack reduced in numbers Bracknell won a scrum against the head, Gabe Hills taking full advantage to dot down for his brace. Conversion from out wide by Vic Hardwicke was missed.
With Drybrook restored to ‘full strength’ a period of Dryrook possession in the Bracknell half was rewarded with Dryrook's second try of the afternoon. Again the seemingly easy conversion was missed in the brisk wind.
Into the final quarter and with only two points separating the teams the momentum appeared to have shifted to Drybrook. However the numerous Drybrook attacks could not find a way through the resolute Bracknell defence, much to the relief of the nervous travelling Bracknell supporters. A final penalty to Bracknell allowed Vic Hardwicke to kick the ball out and bring the game to an end for Bracknell’s first away win of the season.
Full time: Drybrook 10 Bracknell 12 (Points: Drybrook 1 Bracknell 4)
“Today I felt that the whole squad showed the heart that we needed to win. Our defensive work was excellent all game but especially in the final twenty minutes ”, Head of Rugby Daniel ap Dafydd commented after the game.
The result sees Bracknell leap frog Cleve in the league, out of the relegation spots. Cleve as a result of their loss away at Brixham drop back into relegation spots. There is now just one point separating each league position ten, eleven and twelve; the team finishing twelve being relegated. Bracknell have five games (three at home & two away) remaining to amass enough points to avoid the drop.
Well done to the Stags and 3XV who both recorded bonus point league wins yesterday. Commiserations 4XV who lost away at league leaders Slough II but did collect two losing bonus points for their efforts.
The 1XV are back in action next Saturday (9th March) when they host Exeter University in their first trip to Lily Hill (KO 2.15pm). Please get down to Lily Hill to cheer the lads on. There is a buffet lunch available prior to kick off and all the days Six Nations games will be shown LIVE on the clubhouse screens. To book lunch or for more details please email:firstname.lastname@example.org
A reminder that the Bracknell Beer & Cider Festive tickets are now on sale. To get your tickets click here
Photos courtesy of Jayne Whitelegg.
Bracknell: 1. Elliott Bellman 2. Michael Clarke (c) 3. Ken Dowding 4. Leo Bailey 5. Jamie Johnson 6. Sam Gibbons 7. Giuseppe Salustri 8. Lorenzo Palacio 9. Mikey MacDonald 10. Victor Hardwicke 11. Connor Segre 12. Chris Laidlaw 13. Ian Burch 14. Simon Bayliss 15. Gabe Hills Replacements: Bradley Walters, Nick Ovens, Lewis Franklin