Ducks target promotion after extending unbeaten home run

Man of the Match Scott McKenzie scores under the posts after charging down a Thatcham clearance kick. Photo: Mark Bannister Photography
Man of the Match Scott McKenzie scores under the posts after charging down a Thatcham clearance kick. Photo: Mark Bannister Photography

Aylesbury RFC head coach Dave Larham feels his side are in prime position to challenge for promotion from the Southern Counties North after a 29-15 victory over Thatcham on Saturday.

The result means Aylesbury are up to fourth in a congested table with just two points separating the top four teams.

The win also sees Ay’s extend their unbeaten home run to 15 games, a record that stretches back to September 2013.

Larham said afterwards: “I was proud of this performance for a number of reasons. Firstly, after a minute’s silence to remember former club member Mike Waterhouse, the team put in a performance in front of the Waterhouse Family that befitted his memory.

“Secondly, we beat a very competitive Thatcham team that have genuine quality throughout their team, and I was also delighted that we got our team selection and tactics right in challenging weather conditions on a heavy pitch.

“This result and several other interesting results at the top of the league means we are in a good position to challenge the teams in first and second.

“We won’t get ahead of ourselves and typically take each game as it comes and on its own merits, but the business end of the season could see Aylesbury having a significant influence on who finishes first and second.”

Thatcham were the last team to beat Aylesbury at Ostler’s Field and they made the perfect start in their quest to replicate that feat when they went over for an unconverted try inside 10 minutes.

Aylesbury’s response was almost immediate, however, and when they were awarded a scrum five metres from the Thatcham try line, the home side used their extra weight and power to drive the visitors back, allowing number eight Cory Neighbour to dot down.

Although the gusting wind saw James Woodfall miss the conversion, Aylesbury were quickly back on the attack and went ahead for the first time when Man of the Match Scott McKenzie charged down a Thatcham clearance kick, gathered the loose ball and sprinted under the posts.

This time Woodfall added the extras and the Ducks made it 17-5 at half-time through Andy Blacklock, who collected Adam Moore’s clever chipped kick and touched down.

Within minutes of the restart, Aylesbury strengthened their grip on the game as Blacklock secured the bonus-point with his second try.

Thatcham then threatened a comeback as two tries brought them to within nine points, but Woodfall wrapped up victory when he went on a powerful run before forcing his way through several weak tackles for a fifth and final try.

Aylesbury host Beaconsfield this weekend.

Elsewhere, Aylesbury IIs recorded an emphatic 45-7 win at Amersham & Chiltern.