Towcester U23s 28 v 38 Buckingham Young Bucks
Travelling to Towcester for the first return match of this annual competition, the Young Bucks welcomed 10 new players, including the return of Aaran Matthews from the Royal Navy and the final fling of Steve Gibson before heading off to play in New Zealand. With a backline that looked very much like the Oceanic Trophy winning line-up of 2 years ago and a solid pack, hopes were high.
From the start Buckingham dominated scrum and maul, with a front row of Ryan Dumbarton, Matthews and Alex Gibson solid but set to play the full 80. In the loose Smith, Toone and S Gibson hit hard and brought the first try for Dumbarton following a scrum on the Tows 5 metre line. The lead didn’t last long though as Tows backs spread quick ball and the Young Bucks failed to number up, giving Tows a 3 on 1 and a 7-5 lead. The lead swung twice more, firstly with a breakdown penalty secured by Oscar Brown, kicked to the 22 and from the forwards Ellis went over in the corner. Then despite a superb chase and cover tackle by Declan Bassett, the subsequent infringement gave Tows a penalty try for 14-10.
As the game warmed up, the Buckingham backs began to fire and the next score was a classic Pittwood try from an initial break by Nagy. Support from D Bassett and Ellis saw Pittwood with 20 metres to make and a trademark mazy run through the defenders to make it easy on Nagy this time with the conversion and a 14-17 lead at half time.
The second half followed the first as Tows recaptured the lead with wide ball stretching a rather slow Buckingham defence. Catching the kick off, Matthews and the Bucks forwards put them back in the Tows 22 and a clearing kick only found Petrie who ran it back to within 5 metres of the next score. Quick ball to Sulli allowed him to gift Toone an easy run over from 2 metres out and once more the Young Bucks were on top at 21-24.
Pressure from Buckingham was telling and with a good exit from the kick off, Nagy followed a kick and dribble with a chip and chase and with confusion in the Tows ranks, Matt Glendinning managed to rip the ball from a Tows player over their own try line to dot down. Tows were not done however, despite another good exit courtesy of Matthews and Smith and big tackles from the likes of Matt London and Archie Bassett and as Buckingham failed again to number up, Tows clawed their way back to 28-31. Their job became more difficult as a yellow for a clothesline tackle on S Gibson allowed Buckingham a 2m lineout from which a trademark maul produced great position. Spotting the opportunity, Ellis swung the ball wide to find S Gibson in full flight for the final try and a fourth Nagy conversion.
Lacking nothing of what it had promised in trys, fierce competition, some great rugby and the return of familiar faces who graced the youth stage for both clubs, this fixture looks like becoming a key part of the rugby calendar. The result was always in doubt as local rivalry fired up both sides and no doubt next year will be no different.
Updated 09:30 - 11 Jan 2018 by Buckingham Rugby