Aylesbury Rugby Club said goodbye to an old friend and local dairy man Ron Miller by holding a minutes silence before their last game of the season on Saturday.
On a day which would have suited mid-December rather than mid April, Ays hosted Thatcham who were one place below the Ducks before the start of play.
In what was to prove a real seesaw match, Ay’s snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the last despite defending heroically for long periods.
Ays were pressing hard from the start at Ostler’s Field and were well into Thatcham territory when a loose pass was intercepted and the ball was run in wide out from Ays posts to give the visitors the opening score against the run of play. The conversion was missed (0-5).
The game then went into stalemate as both sides playing a similar style of rugby wrestled for control. Both packs cancelled each other out in the set pieces. Ays’ resolve was rewarded when Thatcham were penalised in front of their posts and Woodfall slotted the kick home to reduce the deficit to two points (3-5).
Man of the match open side flanker Adam Bown was making his presence felt by getting amongst Thatcham breaking up their attacks and linking Ays open play.
Woodfall took advantage again when Thatcham were penalised and gave his Ducks a slender 6-5 half-time lead with his boot.
Head coach Dave Larham asked the players to look after the ball in difficult weather conditions in the second half. But now playing against Thatcham and the wind, the home line was taking a pounding. Ays defended heroically only for Thatcham to score against the run of play again (6-10).
Matt Birch drove the ball over the line to reclaim the lead for Ays (11-10) but Woodfall missed the conversion.
With less than eight minutes left Thatcham got a penalty to make it 11-13 and with it went their hopes of reaching Larham’s target of four wins from four to end the season.
The Ducks still managed three wins on the bounce prior to this season-closing slender defeat, though, with plenty of reason for optimism ahead of next season from the last few games.
The club openly regarded this season as one of transition as it worked to finish a major redevelopment but it was still packed with some good highs like beating the top sides.
Injuries had made the campaign a challenging one at times but with a lot of young players coming through the future looks bright for the Ducks.