Aylesbury celebrated the opening of their new artificial grass pitch in style when beating Beaconsfield 21-7 in front of a big crowd at Ostler’s Field.
In addition to three senior league games taking place, Saturday marked a historic occasion for the club as they officially launched the floodlit artificial grass pitch (AGP).
The all-weather pitch is part of the RFU’s Rugby World Cup 2015 legacy of delivering over £50m investment over four years into the development of 100 AGPs in England.
The league game between Aylesbury and Beaconsfield was chosen to showcase the community’s new facility at Ostler’s Field. Prior to the match, over 400 guests attended a buffet in the clubhouse which was followed by local double Paralympic champion and four-time world rowing champion Pamela Relph (MBE) cutting a ribbon to mark the opening of the pitch.
Following the match. RFU CEO Ian Ritchie officially unveiled the the pitch.
And the Ducks ensured their on-field performance lived up to the occasion, running out comfortable winners to keep themselves third in the Southern Counties North.
Head coach Jon Lambden commented afterwards: “The plan for our first match of the new year on the new pitch was simple enough; play as we have been, try and secure forward domination and then play for good field position.
“The early period of the match proved exactly that with domination at scrum and line-out backed by excellent kicking from Alex Shearer.
“We then battered away at the Beaconsfield defence only to achieve 10 points by half-time, made up by a converted try and an important penalty kicked by Nicky Mercer.
“Beaconsfield scored a good counter-attack try and with it found an open running approach that proved to be testing especially in the second part of the first-half.
“The second half was set up nicely, we needed to organise the defence to match the wide attacks we faced and in return maintain dominant set piece and improved phase play.
“This to a large measure was what the team achieved. The attacks brought two penalties from Dave Stow and a late try by James Woodcock to seal the game.
“At 16-7 Beaconsfield had a critical period of attack in our 22 but the line-out went again to the backs and were well stopped and turned over.
“It turned out to be a well-deserved though hard-fought win and hopefully the start of further improvements in performance which are eagerly anticipated on the new pitch.”
Aylesbury’s forwards took control from an early stage on Saturday and broke through Beaconsfield’s stubborn resistance through Andy Hackett’s try, converted by Dave Stow, before the visitors replied with their own score.
But Nicky Mercer’s penalty gave Aylesbury a 10-7 half-time advantage and they never looked back from there with two Stow penalties and a James Woodcock try enough to secure the victory.
To complete what was a memorable day for Aylesbury at Ostler’s Field, both the 2nd XV and 3rd XV teams recorded solid wins over Redingensians and Banbury respectively.
Aylesbury visit second-placed Bicester this weekend.