Brackley lose their way as they return empty-handed

Seb Johnson crashes over for Brackley NNL-171016-115002002
Seb Johnson crashes over for Brackley NNL-171016-115002002

Brackley go into Saturday’s Midlands Four East South clash with Bedford Swifts on the back of a disappointing defeat.

Brackley lost 18-10 at Aylestone St James where, despite not having their strongest side they still had a squad on paper which was more than capable of picking up some points on the road.

But new signing Ed Chapman pulled up in the warm-up, meaning a reshuffle, and in the opening exchanges hooker Matt Arnold pulled up short with a lower back strain. Luke Andrew came off the bench earlier than expected, coming back from four weeks out due to injury.

Despite all the interruptions, Brackley looked to dominate territory and possession in the opening stages. But that was about all they had to offer until ten minutes towards the end of the contest.

The Aylestone pack looked to carry and scored first with their big blind-side winger coming round the corner and piercing through the defence to score under the posts. Shortly afterwards it was the Aylestone inside centre coming through the same channel to score but this time the conversion was missed.

Brackley regathered and, largely due to the boot of fly-half Mike Lowdell, they gathered some territory and turned pressure into points with a penalty virtually in front of the posts. Aylestone had the last say in the half and they hammered away in the Brackley 22 but this time stubborn defence restricted the hosts to a penalty.

The game got very fractious in the second half and two yellow cards to the home side at separate intervals gave Brackley some momentum. But the final execution and persistent slow ball stopped Brackley from going ahead in the game despite their numerical advantage.

Seb Johnson eventually crossed the line ten minutes from the end as he side-stepped his way through the tight defence and crossed over to score underneath the posts. Lowdell added the extras but, as Brackley got desperate in the final stages of the game, they conceded some cheap penalties and eventually one was in range for the Aylestone goal kicker.

Brackley will need to regroup quickly this week as they look to get back on track.

Saturday’s game against Bedford Swifts is followed by a trip to Yardley District in the third round of the RFU Midlands Junior Vase competition.