A vital must win match for either side was characterised by a rather poor display of rugby. In fairness to all the players the weather, though dry was influenced by a bitter wind that swept across a very heavy pitch throughout the game, which meant that ball retention wasn't helped with cold fingers and passes were regularly spilt.
Dunlop, who in recent seasons have suffered through a regular lack of players, ensured that they had a full complement for this match and quite understandably were targeting it for a home banker. A feature of the hosts sides over the years has been a significant reliance on a forward orientated game and this was no exception. A couple of their pack were the residue of their hugely successful Colts side that they developed nearly ten years ago and many of whom formed the backbone of success that took them to Midlands 1 as recently as seven years ago. Harbury initially struggled at the set scrums and in the opening ten minutes a 5 metre scrum provided the Dunlop pack with the opportunity to drive over for a try and a 5-0 lead.
Gradually, Harbury got back into the match and some well won ball at the line outs and the hosts being reguarly penalised enabled them to camp within the home 22. Determined to take Dunlop on up front was not a wise move and promising attacks were contained. Finally however, a well won line out and attacking maul took Harbury close to the goal line and a swift transfer of ball led to our powerful winger scoring wide out. The scoreline remained dead locked at 5-5 for the next quarter until Dunlop took advantage of an attacking scrum 5 metres from the Harbury line, moved the ball wide and then brought it back into the forwards who forced their way over for a converted score and the lead at 12-5.
Dunlop had their spirits up and once again pressured the hosts line. A rolling maul appeared to have an inevitably about a further score. the half backs passed the ball out but a brilliant interception by Chris Milburn gave him the space to use his pace and outstrip the home cover to touch down beneath the posts for a converted try which brought both sides level at 12-12 a piece.
Dunlop gave away a series of penalties and some hard running in the Harbury back line took the game to the home 22. A line out was won by Harbury and as this was the final play keeping ball in hand was essential. A misjudgment in the Dunlop back line led to a penalty 27 metres out but straight onto the posts. Normally meat and drink for the winning score. However, Harbury's three front line kickers were all off the field with injuries and the resulting attempt drifted wide.
A chance missed but in the circumstances perhaps a fair result considering the numbing effects of the element and the chill factor of the wind.