Brilliant Brackley sweep by Harbury to book their place

Phil Brinklow races clear to score a superb try for Brackley against Harbury. Photo: Neale Hutchinson
Phil Brinklow races clear to score a superb try for Brackley against Harbury. Photo: Neale Hutchinson
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Brackley stormed into the second round of the RFU Junior Vase with a 26-5 victory over Harbury.

Brackley took an early lead in Saturday’s Midlands Division first round tie but took their foot off the gas for the remainder of the first half.

Nonetheless, they came alive to score 21 points in the second period and carry off the spoils by four tries and three conversions against a late try from the visitors.

The home team scored inside ten minutes after their spirited pack had driven the ball down the right-hand flank deep into the Harbury red zone. A final heave had prop James Giddins touching down for an unconverted try but though Brackley mounted a repeat assault on the Harbury line, there would be no further score in a half with little of note apart from the occasional threat posed by the visitors’ runners in the wide channels.

The second half was a very different affair.

Within minutes of the restart, Luke Andrew was picking up at the base of a scrum 12 metres out and heading for the line before off-loading to scrum-half Tim Robinson. Tackled just inches short, Robinson was able to get the ball to his supporting forwards for hooker Aaron Loggin to go over for the try.

Fly-half Dan Gray added the two points to give Brackley a 12-0 lead. As Brackley upped the tempo, Harbury suddenly faltered, losing two players to the sin-bin within the space of five minutes.

Despite that, the visitors still managed to carry the ball to the Brackley 22 from where full-back Phil Brinklow countered with what might well be the try of the season.

Gathering the ball out to the left, Brinklow eluded two advancing Harbury players before swerving to his right to beat two more. Crossing the halfway line, Brinklow handed off the Harbury winger, accelerated away from a despairing tackle and headed for the posts with a couple of players in close pursuit. But the fullback’s speed carried him home for a superb try, with Gray landing the conversion.

Brackley’s fourth try came when centre Graeme Cartmell retrieved the ball from a breakdown on the right wing. Powering his way across field, Cartmell held off one late challenge to get the ball down by the far post, Gray again adding the extras.

In the closing stages, Harbury finally got a look in, stretching Brackley’s three-quarter line to grab an unconverted consolation try in the dying minutes of the match.