Brackley suffered their third Midlands Four East South fixture defeat on Saturday, losing 20-5 at Sileby Town and drop to fourth in the table.
Both teams knew going in that it would be a big game with the winners ending the day in second place. The match see-sawed in momentum from two teams with identical records going into it, with both sides putting in stern defensive efforts throughout.
The hosts started the game on the front foot, using their larger pack and physical runners to drive the visitors back into their 22. But Brackley’s defence was resolute and the forwards in particular did an excellent job of winning turnovers and penalties at crucial moments to relieve the pressure.
After a big bust from the Sileby centre, the hosts used the forwards to drag Brackley in before shipping the ball out wide to score the opening try.
That ignited Brackley who, much like SIleby had done earlier, started piling on the pressure in the hosts’ 22 but were at times wasteful giving the ball away as they searched for a score of their own. Shortly before half time, Brackely won a line-out inside the Sileby 22 and after some excellent close quarter work by the forwards, hooker Mikey Clark dived over from close range to make it 5-5 at the break.
The second half was similar to the first with both teams at times being wasteful and struggling to find a score to break the deadlock. As the game went into the last quarter, Sileby dragged Brackley into a close quarter arm battle that favoured the hosts, who were started to dominate territory.
An infringement in front of the posts allowed Sileby to add three points and regain the lead. That gave the hosts a boost as their forward runners started keeping control of the ball more and were making metres over the gain line.
As the game went into the last ten minutes, a Sileby scrum in Brackley’s 22 saw them release their right winger who dived in the corner for a converted try.
Moments later another Sileby scrum saw their right winger crash over in the corner again to finish Brackley off.
The result means Brackley slip to fourth and will need to improve their performances to get back up the table. Brackley entertain Stamford College Old Boys on Saturday.