Brackley ended 2015 with another Midlands Four East defeat, this time going down 19-8 at Sileby.
In a nutshell, Brackley gave away too many penalties. Once again the count was heavily against them, especially at the breakdown, stalling their momentum and repossessing hard-won territory.
Even more to the point, four of those penalties were awarded within range of the posts, gifting Sileby 12 points ahead of their one converted try and enabling the Leicestershire outfit to overhaul Brackley’s earlier penalty goal, try and conversion.
The visitors had got off to an energetic start, rolling back their hosts and taking the lead with an early penalty from fly-half Dan Gray
Sileby soon levelled when Brackley were caught holding on to the ball in a ruck but the visitors still had the edge in open play. Outside centre Ken Marshall-Grant stormed through the midfield before off-loading to Nathan Archer who went over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Sileby briefly looked shaken but, at that critical moment Brackley failed to tighten the screw. Moments later the home team’s kicker was again teeing up the ball in front of the posts.
The visitors continued to dominate open play throughout the second quarter. Yet despite penetrating runs from Graeme Cartmell, making a telling re-appearance at loose-head, flanker Chris Goodall and number eight Will Cooper, Brackley could not find a way through the Sileby defence.
As halftime loomed, the referee’s whistle heralded another successful kick at goal for the home team and suddenly Brackley were 9-8 in arrears.
Their best chance of overturning that deficit came in the third quarter when a high tackle sent the Sileby full-back to the sin-bin, causing a re-jigging of the three-quarter line, with the fly-half coming out of position to take his place.
Somehow Brackley fluffed the opportunity to exploit the situation, one which momentarily became even more vulnerable when another Sileby was yellow carded for a high tackle. No sooner had the full-back rejoined the field than he boomed over another penalty, taking the score to 12-8.
Throwing caution to the wind, Brackley did all they could to keep the ball alive and began flinging long passes to either wing. But the visitors came undone as the Sileby number eight seized a loose ball, made ground and off-loaded for a try and conversion that denied Brackley even a losing bonus point.