AYLESBURY Rugby Club’s 26-14 loss to Grove saw them crash out of the Southern Counties Cup and, according to their chairman of rugby, effectively ended their season with more than six fixtures remaining.
The defeat means Aylesbury are out of all cup competitions and with a 15-point gap in the league, there seems very little remaining for the Ay’s to play for.
Chairman of rugby Phil Bowden said: “It was a good game played in the best spirit but we were very unlucky and it does mean the season’s basically over. We are comfortable in the league and won’t get relegated but the highest we can finish is sixth.
“But that’s rugby and we just have to dust ourselves down and get on with it.
“We have had a huge injury list this year, something like 18 to 19 long-term first team injuries.”
The Grove match was played in tough conditions with a strong wind and heavy rain making it difficult to handle.
Aylesbury had won their place in the competition earlier in the year with their triumph in the Bucks Shield but Grove had already beaten Ay’s twice in the league this season meaning the visitors were underdogs from the start.
The home side kicked the game off but a smart move from deep saw the Ay’s backs move the ball through several pairs of hands for Lenny Empson to create an overlap and Liam D’Almeida touched down in the corner. Gary Horne converted in tricky conditions to make it 7-0.
Captain Luke Gardner was sin-binned for not rolling away despite it seeming he was in fact trapped and Grove took immediate advantage of the extra man and forced the try.
Five minutes later the Grove number eight broke through a tackle and outpaced both full back and wing to score. The home side then had a man of their own sin-binned Ay’s took advantage with Empson cutting through the Grove defence to score near the posts. Horne converted to take Ay’s back into the lead 12–14 at half-time.
Aylesbury started the second half well and pressed the Grove try line time and time again to no avail. A clearance from a scrum 20 metres from the Aylesbury try line was charged down the kick and touchdown to score against the run of play.
Jack Garland replaced the hard-working Mark Jeffers but Ay’s were again playing from deep and had to make up lots of ground.
The visitors were still chasing the game as time started to run out and a promising move down the right wing saw a loose pass intercepted and Grove had an easy run to secure the game for Grove at 26-14.
Bowden said: “The score doesn’t reflect the game but that’s the way it goes.
“We had a bit of bad luck going into the final 20 minutes 14-12 up with the weather being bad it was difficult to handle and they got a pair of breaks.
“It’s been a bit of a disastrous season for us because of all the injuries. Last year we had a smaller squad that played regularly.”
Aylesbury are set to play Milton Keynes at home in Weston Turville on Saturday.