Brackley end ten-year wait to take spoils at Swifts

Will Cooper heads for the line during Brackley's victory at Bedford Swifts. Photo: Neale Hutchinson NNL-160310-105437002
Will Cooper heads for the line during Brackley's victory at Bedford Swifts. Photo: Neale Hutchinson NNL-160310-105437002
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Brackley returned from Bedford Swifts with their first victory in ten years, winning 32-13 in Saturday’s Midlands Four East South fixture.

After a scrappy first half in which Brackley scored just two penalties, it would have taken a brave soul to wager that the visiting team were going to come away with a four-try bonus point win.

But regardless of Swifts’ tenacious tackling, Brackley overturned their early advantage and clocked up 26 points in the second period to secure the win.

With neither side having crossed the whitewash during their previous two encounters, an exchange of penalty goals in the first quarter presaged a repeat performance.

Fly-half Mike landed a second penalty to put Brackley briefly ahead but Swifts then eschewed a kick at goal to run the ball and force their way over in the corner. A successful conversion from the touchline had the teams changing ends with the score at 10-6.

A far more resolute Brackley took the game by the scruff of the neck from the restart. Hooker Aaron Loggin first made a surging run deep into the Swifts’ 22, quickly followed by centre Mike Lowe, before full-back Jon Cooper burst through the defence for an unconverted try.

It wasn’t long before the visitors scored again. The forwards drove upfield and moved the ball into open space where flanker Will Cooper broke clear and touch down by the posts for a dazzling try converted by Lowdell.

Penalised for holding onto the ball in a tackle, Brackley saw Swifts slot their third penalty to get back on terms at 18-18 but were soon camped inside the opposition 22 once more. As the ball emerged from a ruck formed after Lowdell had been hauled down just short of the line, second rower George Wallis picked up and found a direct route through the opposing pack to score unmolested.

Lowdell added the conversion and was back in the thick of things moments later and when held up, Luke Andrew, who seems equally as happy these days in the front or back row of the scrum, was at his shoulder to maintain the attack.

Despite the close attention of three Swifts players, Andrew managed to angle his body to go over for Brackley’s fourth try and Lowdell’s conversion confirmed the victory.