Ducks edge closer to securing promotion play-off spot

Cory Neighbour goes over. Picture by Mark Bannister
Cory Neighbour goes over. Picture by Mark Bannister

Aylesbury look set to claim the Southern Counties North promotion play-off spot for a third year running following Saturday’s 29-5 win over bottom side Swindon College Old Boys.

With a league play-off spot in their sights, the Ducks knew this was a must win game to maintain distance between themselves and third-placed Buckingham, and notching a bonus-point win did just that.

It means they only need a point from their final game to ensure second spot.

“It was a professional performance against a very committed and aggressive opposition,” said head coach David Larham on his side’s display against Swindon.

“While I am pleased with the team display, we may rue the number of injuries we incurred.

“Key players James Serrano (shoulder) and Matt Dennis will now have a nervous wait to see if they will be fit to face Wallingford next week and a possible play-off final the week after.

“During this game, our four teenagers acquitted themselves with scrum-half Sam Richardson capping a fine first start with a well-taken try, and flanker Luke Walmsley putting in a man of the match performance.

“With Buckingham recording a bonus-point win at Marlow, we now face a challenging trip to Wallingford this week needing one league point to finish in second position in the league.

“As we’ve said all season, we will take each game by its merits and continue to try to improve on each performance.”

Injuries had forced some changes to the Ducks team for the visit of Swindon, most notable of which was the absence of captain and scrum half Adam Moore who will miss the rest of the season.

Aylesbury dominated throughout as centre Matt Dennis ran in an early opening try that James Woodfall converted to get the scoreboard moving.

Cory Neighbour, who had taken over captain duties, was next to dot down when using his size and strength to force his way across, again Woodfall converting, before young Sam Richardson showed good opportunism to dart through a gap and cap his debut with a try.

This time Woodfall’s conversion struck the upright but Aylesbury were in full command at half-time, leading 19-0, and though the second-half was less one-sided, tries from Gary Horne and Andy Blacklock ensured a straightforward victory.

Aylesbury now travel to fifth-placed Wallingford this weekend where a point would be enough for second place.