Ducks survive frantic finish to pip Gosford

Robbie Phillips makes a break. Picture MarkBannisterPhotography.com

Robbie Phillips makes a break. Picture MarkBannisterPhotography.com

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Aylesbury survived a nerve-jangling finish on Saturday as they held off a late rally from Gosford All Blacks to claim a 14-13 victory in the Southern Counties North.

The Ducks appeared set for a much more comfortable victory when leading 14-0 but Gosford, who are enjoying their first season in the Southern Counties North, fought back and almost snatched an unlikely win, only to come up just short as Ay’s held firm.

“What started as a measured and relatively comfortable encounter with 14 points to the good in the first 20 mins, ended in a frantic scramble defence to save the match,” said a relieved Jon Lambden, Aylesbury’s head coach.

“The start was patient with steady phase play. What looked like a good forward drive try was deemed held up but we scored from the follow up five-metre scrum.

“With the next piece of attack good ball saw the backs work Pete Gorley over at flanker. From then on the opposition kicked deep for field position putting our back three under pressure.

“They also started to move the ball wide with the Aylesbury defence caught too narrow, but this became the pattern of the second-half.

“The forwards, led by the front row of Andy Hackett , Andy Stobbs and Mark Jeffers, ensured dominance at set-piece and Pete Gorley with Cory Neighbour worked hard in the loose but the ability to keep the ball to put pressure on the opposition eluded us.

“We finally put together a good passage of play to put Scott McKenzie over but the try was disallowed through a tight forward pass decision.

“Positives were the team contained four players under 20 and their continuation to work hard and maintain their growing belief.”

Centre Nicky Mercer dotted down following a strong drive to get the scoreboard moving before Peter Gorley ran in under the posts.

With Dave Stow converting both scores, Aylesbury were 14 points to the good and seemed in total control.

But Gosford replied with a penalty and then an unconverted try to reduce the deficit to just six points at half-time.

A yellow card for Cory Neighbour early in the second-half gave Gosford further encouragement before Stow missed a penalty attempt and then Scott McKenzie had a try chalked off for a forward pass.

Those missed chances almost came back to haunt Aylesbury when Gosford crossed the whitewash for a second time, however the subsequent conversion agonisingly hit the crossbar and bounced away.

With three minutes left on the clock, the hosts threw everything at Aylesbury and with their final attack, they ran the ball from deep but the Ducks defence held firm and brought their opponents down just short of the try line.

The ball was spilled forward and Aylesbury were relieved to hear the final whistle.

The Ducks are now seventh in the table and visit High Wycombe this weekend.