Result in doubt right to the end
Rugby & District Clonmel Cup
Rugby St Andrews 2nd XV 15
Long Buckby 2nd XV 9
With no first team league games scheduled Saints and Long Buckby seconds took centre stage at John Tomalin Way in a Clonmell Cup clash. It may not have been a game for the purists because both sides made far too many errors but it was not lacking in commitment and tension with the result being in doubt right up to the final whistle.
Faced by what is euphemistically termed as ‘an unusually strong’ visiting team, Saints had to dig deep to gain victory as they came under sustained pressure for much of the second half.
However they had opened strongly and, after a couple of close calls, Fraser Caithness was on hand to finish off Mark Brightwell’s powerful surge and touch down by the posts for Liam Clynes to convert. Buckby hit back with a Ryan Clark penalty only for Liam Clynes to respond almost immediately. In their keenness to impose themselves Saints began conceding far too many needless penalties. Clark punished these misdemeanours with two more penalties to leave his side trailing by a single point at the interval and the prospect of the wind in their favour.
The villagers made the most of the conditions and Saint’s fallibility at the line out to work the touchline effectively and gain attacking positions. Fortunately the home defence was aggressive and well organised, not only repulsing attacks but also setting up opportunities to counter. Finding themselves under pressure near their own line a Buckby pass back into in goal was dropped and Tom Helliwell was on hand to touch down. Buckby continued to threaten but could not find a way through. They were inches short of Saint’s line when the ball was turned over and kicked into touch to end the game.
Saints return to league action this week when they host top of the table Rushden and Higham. The Northamptonshire side were relegated at the end of last season but have established an eight-point lead over second-placed Vipers and ten above third placed Saints. A win is therefore vital to both sides but Saints’ recent victories over teams above them should give them enough confidence to add another notable scalp to their growing collection.