Brave Brackley thwarted by last-gasp try and tumble out

Hooker Mikey Clark touches down for Brackley's second try. Photo: Neale Hutchinson
Hooker Mikey Clark touches down for Brackley's second try. Photo: Neale Hutchinson

Brackley came so close to making it into the last eight of the RFU Midlands Junior Vase.

Leading at Yardley & District RFC in Saturday’s third round tie, Brackley were only six minutes away from victory before going down 29-27.

Unavailability meant that eight changes were made from the side which faced Bedford Swifts the previous weekend. For the first 15 minutes the changes were evident as the home side crossed the line to open the scoring with Brackley barely touching the ball.

But, as Brackley grew into the game, Mike Lowdell showed great control and offered plenty of territory with the boot as the hosts showed plenty of ill discipline throughout. The Yardley defence stood firm in the first half and Brackley trailed 12-6 at the break through Lowdell’s penalty.

For the restart Ken Marshall Grant and Matthew Arnold came off the bench and made an immediate impact. A well time tackle on the scrum half from Arnold led to the second yellow card of the game.

Another yellow card just moments later saw Brackley take advantage. Paul Brinklow, standing in at outside centre, jinked back inside and crossed the line to edge the visitors ahead.

With the game starting to open up both sides had plenty of chances to score, Yardley broke away with their winger going almost the length of the pitch just being pulled down short by Gareth Rees. But the scramble defence wasn’t enough to stop the Yardley captain scoring from close range.

Another yellow card for the home side saw Brackley attack the short side and Russell Newman was able to execute an overlap allowing stand-in hooker Mikey Clark an easy ten metre run in the corner. Lowdell added the extras to put Brackley 20-19 ahead.

Confidence saw Brackley grow into the second half and when the Yardley fly half was charged down on his own try line Luke Andrew bounced on the loose ball to score and Lowdell converted.

Brackley should have closed the game out but a clumsy penalty for being offside saw Yardley kick a penalty to close the gap to 27-22 with just six minutes to play.

Yardley deservedly got the final score, a pick-and-go round the fringes from five metres out to steal the victory and leave Brackley ruing what might have been.