1XV finish the season in style
By The Real Hummers
Bracknell (26) 54 Newton Abbot (5) 17
“We are playing Newton Abbot, so it must be the start or end of the season” would be an understandable cry from any member of Bracknell RFC, as for the last two seasons the sides have met on the opening and the last day of the season. In what only seems like a blink of an eye, Saturday 1st September saw the teams meet at Rackerhayes, Newton Abbot’s home ground, for the opening game of this season. That day it was Newton Abbot that recorded a 42-36 win, a game where the lead changed numerous occasions. It would properly be fair to say that the fortunes of both sides had not gone as they would have hoped that sunny Devon day.
Prior to kick both sides joined in a round of applause for Paul Stalker who sadly passed during the week after a brave fight with cancer. Bracknell kicked off playing towards the clubhouse. It would take just four minutes for Bracknell to open the scoring with a Mickey MacDonald try. Vic Hardwicke added the extras.
Bracknell’s dominance was rewarded with a second try on the twenty minute mark. Leo Bailey (in his final game for the club) driving over the try line from a catch and drive off a line out. Vic Hardwicke converting.
With the crowd having to endure a short but heavy April shower, Bradley Walters was on point to score Bracknell’s third try on the half hour mark - almost a carbon copy of their second. Vic Hardwicke again converting.
Bracknell would not have it all their own way, a break by winger Ed Brown found hooker Charlie Dore for Newton Abbot’s opening score.
Bracknell finished the first half scoring with a Gabe Hills try, gathering a smart cross field kick from Chris Laidler to dot down for Bracknell’s bonus point try.
Half time: Bracknell 26 Newton Abbot 5
Bracknell opened the scoring with a second try of the day for Bradley Walters, driving under the Newton Abbot posts.
Newton Abbot were given hope with a try from full back Harry Allen reaching out a long arm to score, after a Newton Abbot break.
With just over half of the second half gone, a break from Chris Laidler sent Simon Bayliss into space to score. Newton Abbot responded with a try of their own prop Mike Way touching down. Ed Brown converting
Into the final ten minutes of the game and the Bracknell pressure was starting to tell on the determined Newton Abbot defence. Mickey MacDonald found space off a ruck to score his second try of the game. Bracknell’s final try of the game came off a neat wrap around in the backs, Chris Laidler bursting through under the posts. Vic Hardwicke completing the days scoring with the conversion.
Full time: Bracknell 54 Newton Abbot 17 (Points: Bracknell 5 Newton Abbot 0)
The result sees Bracknell complete a six match unbeaten run to finish in 10th spot in the league on 65 points. Bracknell’s record for the season has a balanced feel to it - played 26 won 13 lost 13
Playing for Bracknell his last game was Mickey MacDonald who returns to his parent club, Chinnor. We also say good bye to his brother, Cam MacDonald who is set to join Bury St Edmunds for next season. We wish both well at their new clubs. Hanging up his boots at the end of this season is Leo Bailey. Leo has been a stalwart at the club and an important member of the 1XV for many years which has seen him earn a Berkshire cup winner’s medal and a number of county caps. He tells me he has taken more line outs, scored more trys than any other second row in club history. We hope you enjoy your retirement and hope to see you on the touch line next season.
Reflecting on the season Head of Rugby Daniel ap Dafydd said “There were some dark times this season but it’s great to finish with six wins. It demonstrates the hard work that the team has put in since Christmas.” Confirming that he was staying for another year “I am looking forward to next season working with this group of players. Hopefully we can keep most of them at the club so we can have a more effective start to the season."
As the season comes to a close it’s worth considering who Bracknell will (or maybe) be playing next season in SW Premier. Next season already looks like the league will be keenly contested as previous seasons. Dropping out of the league are Old Pats, Newton Abbot and Cleve, to be replaced by Newbury coming up as Champions from SW East 1 and Okehampton as Champions from SW West 1. The final play-off spot for entry to SW Premier will be contested between Old Centralians and Launceston. Promoted from SW Premier to National 2 South are Bournemouth, while Barnstaple are in the play-offs against Westcliffe from London & SE Premier. Potentially coming down from National 2 South are London Irish Wild Geese, Guernsey and Birmingham & Solihull who are in the regulation spots, none of which are South West sides, so it’s probable that at least one team from outside the South West division will be required to play in SW Premier next season.
Well done to the 3XV, whose 79-12 win against Buckingham means that they are BBO2 champions for the second consecutive season - in a league predominately made up of second teams. A big congrats to skipper Tristan Jackson, coach Mat Turner and all the team.
A massive congrats to the Ladies who last Sunday became the champions of Women’s NCSE 3 with a win over Marlow Ladies. Those at the club will have seen them being presented at half time yesterday. Well done on how much they have achieved in just two years!!!
Two dates for your diary Friday 10th May is the club One Club Party to which all members are welcome. Also Sunday 26th May sees the return of 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. Bradley Walters 3. George Cotterell 4. Leo Bailey 5. Rhys Verley 6. Tom Scott 7. Tom Mew 8. Lorenzo Palacio 9. Lewis Franklin 10. Victor Hardwicke 11. Mickey MacDonald 12. Chris Laidler 13. Ian Burch 14. Simon Bayliss 15. Gabe Hills Replacements: Nick Ovens, Ken Dowding, Kieran Mudd