Aylesbury Rugby Club’s bright new youngsters continued where they left off against Olney by earning a draw they richly deserved at Wallingford on Saturday.
Aylesbury travelled to Wallingford and following their cup win away at Olney they had high hopes of securing an away win.
The weather was fine and Ays played into the wind as Wallingford kicked off.
The early part of the game was controlled by Ays but stout defence from the home side kept Ays at bay. Ays pack were dominating possession from lineout, ruck maul and scrum providing Captain Horne at fly half with plenty of options.
Andy Hackett had his best game in the front row and ran the ball many times at the opposition. Ays were not troubled by Wallingford’s attacks as the defence dealt easily with any forays into Ays territory.
However, it took until 30 minutes for the first points to be scored and this went against the run of play. Ays had dealt well with an initial attack and from a ruck wide out Wallingford won the ball and their prop popped to the blind side to find no one at home.
This led to a sprint for the line and Ays defenders were always going to come second in this race as they started behind the prop. Wallingford scored but the conversion was missed. Wallingford 5 – Ays 0.
Ays had to start again and work the ball back into Wallingford’s territory. The back row of Dudley, Stanmore and Hardman were playing well as a team. Hardman had several runs from the base of Ays scrum at Wallingford’s defence and from one run Wallingford were penalised.
Woodfall stepped up and slotted the kick home to reduce Wallingford’s lead to 5 – 3. Could Ays youngsters build on this score? Unfortunately Ays conceded a penalty for hands in the ruck and the lead went back to 8 – 3 to Wallingford. Ays could not dent this lead by half time.
At half time coach Dave Larham praised his side for their first twenty five minute performance as straight off the training park but expressed frustration by the way the half ended.
Ays started the second half sloppily allowing Wallingford to run the ball at them, however, the defence held solid and it was Ays this time, against the run of play that opened their try scoring account as Captain Horne crashed over from short range to score. Woodfall was unable to convert so the scores were level at 8 all.
Ays did not enjoy this parity for long as Wallingford ran in a try as several tackles were for the first time not made. The conversion was missed and Ays trailed again 13 - 8.
Ays response was to press hard to try and get back on the score board again. Ays were winning the most ball and territory. However, it was from an Ays attack that Wallingford made the next score as they were wrongly awarded a scum from a long kick ahead.
From this scrum Wallingford ran the ball wide and won the ensuing ruck. Again the ball was run blind and Ays yet again had no guard in place and so the Wallingford winger had a simple run in to score. The conversion was missed to take the score to 18 – 8.
With fifteen minutes to play this young Ays team needed to up their performance if they were to get anything from this game. Character was called for and in a brilliant spell of play Ays supporters were given character in spades full.
The pack was running the show winning ball after ball to gain Ays territory and momentum. From this pressure Wallingford had to give something away and a penalty resulted. Woodfall stepped up and put the kick away to reduce the score to 18 -11. Ays were not finished and they took the pace up again from the kick off. The pack delivered the ball and Horne kicked the ball deep into Wallingford’s half> Ays won the line out and the pack began to pound Wallingford’s line.
Hardman went over and looked to have scored only for the referee to say the ball was held up and award a scrum. Hardman denied seconds earlier picked up the ball from the base of the scrum and smashed his way over to score. Woodfall made the conversion and the scores were tied at 18 all. With minutes left Ays fancied going away with a win but the ball was hacked out of defence and D’Almeida fielded the ball looking to run it back, but the referee to everyone’s astonishment judged the ball had been knocked on and so Ays could not mount another attack.
Ays youngsters had shown heart and dogged determination to get what looked like an unlikely result with fifteen minutes left.