Aylesbury RFC’s hopes of promotion suffered a blow at the weekend when their 17-match unbeaten home run came to an end at the hands of league leaders High Wycombe.
With just six matches remaining, second-placed Aylesbury trailed Wycombe by six points going into the game and needed victory to stand any realistic chance of catching the table-toppers, but the visitors ran in four first half tries to effectively end the contest by half-time.
Nevertheless, the Ducks produced a spirited second half display and twice crossed the try line, but they were unable to prevent a 22-12 defeat.
Head coach Dave Larham said afterwards: “Obviously we are disappointed with the result and first half performance.
“We were tactically naive and gave ourselves an impossible task at half-time. That said, we demonstrated genuine character to dominate the second half and score two tries, and we should have scored more.
“This performance and result means that we are in the precarious position of needing to win our remaining five games to secure second position and the promotion play-off final.
“Based on the first half performance, this task may look beyond us, but I know these players well, and deep down I expect them to react in a positive manner by putting one poor performance behind them to achieve our goal of finishing as high up the table as possible.
“We may need to freshen up the team this weekend to face Marlow and take a look at some of the 2nd XV players that perform well week in, week out.”
The Ducks were protecting an impressive home record having not lost at Ostler’s Field since September 2013, but things began badly when injury forced off Gary Horne inside the first minute before the visiting forwards drove over for the opening try.
Wycombe wasted little time in extending their lead through another powerful surge before Aylesbury were reduced to 13 men when both James Woodfall and Andy Hackett were sin-binned as the visitors scored two further tries to lead 22-0 at half-time.
Despite the scoreline, Aylesbury came out a different side in the second half and put pressure on the Wycombe try line before deservedly going over for a try when Woodfall burst through a gap and touched down.
The Ducks were soon back on the front foot and went over again through Pete Gorley, but they missed out on a losing bonus-point when Alex Shearer’s last-minute penalty attempt drifted agonisingly wide of the posts.
Aylesbury drop to third in the Southern Counties North and host Marlow this weekend.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom at Ostler’s Field as both the 2nd and 3rd XVs recorded convincing wins. The IIs beat Drifters IIs 41-0 while the IIIs were 31-0 winners over Thatcham IIIs.