Brackley continued their promotion push with a bonus point 31-22 victory over Aylestone St James in Saturday’s Midlands Four East South fixture.
With just two points separating the sides going into the match both teams were desperate to get the win to boost their promotion chances. Brackley got it after establishing a big first half advantage but they were made to work hard in the second half by Aylestone.
Brackley started like a house on fire, putting the visitors under immediate pressure and were rewarded with a try when prop Graeme Cartmell took a quick tap and go from five metres out to crash over.
Brackley quickly put Aylestone under pressure in their 22 again. After some slick off-loads from the forwards, the impressive Chris Goodall dived over and Seb Johnson converted.
The visitors were unable to cope with Brackley’s pace and off-loading. After an excellent break by prop Graeme Cartmell the ball was quickly recycled in the Aylestone 22 and went through the hands before centre Nathan Archer found a gap in the defence to go over and Johnson added the extras.
Brackley soon had their bonus point when outside centre Mikey Lowe made a break and, as he was caught, he off-loaded to wing George Altham who scored under the posts to make it 26-0. Aylestone started to work themselves back into the contest and with their first venture into the Brackley 22, they put it through the hands before their outside centre sliced his way through the midfield to make it 26-5 at halftime.
After the restart, Brackley were the ones under pressure and struggling to cope with the powerful Aylestone forward runners. From just outside the Brackley 22, the Aylestone fly-half dummied his way through the home defence to score and he added the conversion.
Aylestone forced the home side to give away penalties and a high tackle by Cartmell saw him get yellow carded. The visitors soon took advantage as they used their forwards to power through Brackley, eventually crashing over in the corner to make it 26-17.
With ten minutes to go, Brackley failed to clear their lines before a chip over the top by the Aylestone fly-half led to a mix up at the back, which he took advantage off to get his second try and make it 26-22.
Brackley finally woke up, started to control more of the possession and worked their way into the visitors’ 22. Brackley hammered at the Aylestone defence and eventually replacement Jonny Morris powered over from close range to make it 31-22.
While the performance was far from perfect and they made it hard for themselves, Brackley will be delighted to get the bonus point win, which sees them now only two points behind second placed Sileby. Brackley now have two weeks to prepare for another big match when they travel to rivals Bedford Swifts.