Game on! Ducks rekindle promotion challenge with bonus-point win

Will Travis gets over for the first of his 3 tries. Picture MarkBannisterPhotography.com
Will Travis gets over for the first of his 3 tries. Picture MarkBannisterPhotography.com

Aylesbury reignited their promotion challenge on Saturday when cruising to a 43-17 victory over Stow-on-the-Wold.

Not only that but results elsewhere, specifically defeat for rivals Bicester, means the Ducks are now just five points behind second place and the promotion play-off spot with two games still remaining.

Assistant coach Rob Smith, who took charge on Saturday in the absence of Jon Lambden, said: “Very pleased with the overall performance.

“With playing conditions advantage in the first-half it was important the team settled early and converted pressure, six tries speaks for itself.

“We know we need to keep working hard to develop our game and this was a good step on that journey. Special mention for the pack which stayed on complete for 80 minutes and created a good platform for the final score.”

Stow Rugby Club’s picturesque setting high up in the Cotswolds hills played host to this must-win fixture for Aylesbury, who opted to travel with 17 men in their squad after a late injury to regular number 8 Cory Neighbour.

The lack of a full complement on their bench clearly did not hamper the Ay’s, however, as they completely dominated the opening 40 minutes.

They were quickly into their stride and raced into a 17-0 lead through early tries from Will Travis, James Serrano and Ben Dukes.

Stow’s frustration boiled over when a home player illegally tackled Andy Hackett, leading to a penalty try, confirming the bonus-point, and a yellow card for the offender.

Nicky Mercer’s conversion increased the advantage to 23-0 and the visitors were soon scampering over the whitewash again when Travis touched down for his second.

There was still time left for Mercer to convert and then for Stow to finally stop the onslaught with their own try, but the Ducks immediately responded when wing Dan Whittall ran under the posts.

That took Aylesbury into half-time with an unassailable 38-5 lead, although a more even second-half saw Stow score two quick tries.

But they left it far too late to influence the outcome of the match, and Aylesbury put the gloss on a convincing win through Travis’ hat-trick try.

With Bicester losing to the league leaders Marlow, Aylesbury have renewed motivation for their last two fixtures.

This weekend, the Ducks are at Thatcham while Bicester visit Milton Keynes.