Buckingham travelled to their new local rivals anticipating a tough day at the office. Banbury narrowly missed out on a play off spot in SW1E last season and had put 60 points on Windsor in their opening game this season.
The visitors were missing there experienced regulars, off at a wedding and a couple of injured players. Coming into the squad for their first appearances of the season were a few younger players in Wiggy Gurney, Jack Allen and James Bell, along with a couple of older heads in Seth Williams (after a year out) and Will Cooper. Jim Barker captaining the side in the absence of Euan Prime.
Buckingham made a very encouraging start to the game with Williams to the fore with two strong runs, one of them supported by Barker and Harry Scarr that led to a fine try on the right wing, scored by Allen and converted by Kinman (with a much refined mullet) to take an early lead 0-7.
The visitors continued their bright opening to the game with a fine touch finder penalty by Kinman giving them a good line out position in the home 22. Unfortunately this was lost and Banbury broke out very swiftly down the left hand side. Buckingham defended the attack well in their 22, but lost Tommy Hooey to a yellow card in the attempt to keep the home side out. From an ensuing scrum picked and drove with their prop forcing his way over for the try which was successfully converted. 7-7.
Buckingham attacked from the restart , Liam Wharton rather harshly penalised after chasing up a Kinman up and under. The visitors kept up the pressure with Kinman narrowly missing with a penalty kick. That was followed by a sustained attack on the home line where the away side kept control of the ball for many phases , only to knock on when it seemed they must score. Banbury then broke out from their own 22 down their left flank and it took a superb tackle from young Wharton racing from his far wing to save a certain score.
With 20 minutes gone Buckingham were delighting their supporters by being well in the game.
The next 20 minutes were not so god however as Banbury ran in four tries to pull away and establish a 35-7 lead at the interval. During this period the visitors appeared to have as much ball as the hosts but the latter were totally clinical in their finishing. One score came as a result of a driven maul from a line out, the other three from speedy breaks out of their own half having won maul ball, fielded a clearing kick or having half broken the first up tackle.
The early stages of the second half had a lot in common with the first half with Buckingham taking the game to the home side. A Kinman kick through was picked up by Gurney and Wharton washed up just short. Banbury came back at Buckingham and a superb tackle by Hooey prevented a score. The full back picked a knock in the tackle and was replaced by Charlie Gulliver.
The visitors then emulated the hosts with a long range break out, Wharton chasing a kick ahead almost reaching the line.. The upshot of this was a yellow card for the Banbury winger for a high tackle. A sustained period on the home line led to a penalty try as Banbury infringed in the maul and picked up another yellow card. 35-14
Will Cooper came on for the veteran Williams at this point and as soon in the game, being involved in a flowing move that made use of the two man advantage to create an overlap for young Allen to go over for his second try under the posts, duly converted by Kinman. 35-21
With 20 minutes remaining the away support began to think in terms of a try bonus point and even a sling bonus point. An unexpected delicate through kick to the corner by Jamie Temple almost brought rewards but sadly this was as good as it got for the men in green.
The last 20 minutes of the game saw the home team regain the initiative and pull away with five unanswered tries as the visitors struggled against the midfield strength in the tackle, the speed of the home backs and the quality of their support play. Buckingham did have the odd flurry in attack during this period as they strove for the elusive fourth try, but in the end has to succumb to a rather lop sided final score 68-21.
So a game which Buckingham did not expect to get much from yielded precisely that outcome in terms of the final score and the match points. However, on the positive side they showed that even missing regular players they could live with one of the fancied sides in this league on their home patch for long periods of the game. They can take heart from this for the more winnable games to come.
Match report by Finlay Gemmell