Towcestrians 10 Newbury Blues 12
A THICK Blues line stood up to a massive examination and completed a win double over the South West One East, without gaining the reward of making a dent on the gap dividing them from Salisbury in second place in the table.
The Wiltshire side hammered Grove for an easy bonus point to put five between themselves and Blues with only four games to play, and the main result was that Salisbury may now fancy their chances of staging a last-gasp bid to snatch the single automatic promotion spot.
That would be rough on a Blues side that survived intact against a Towcestrians side that was clearly fired up, even more so after falling behind to Josh Bartlett’s try after nine minutes.
Blues came under pressure almost immediately and held firm until the 27th minute when number eight Jonty Barrie squeezed over in the corner from a lineout drive, altough it was Blues who had the better chances in the remainder of the half with Toby Thorne missing the the opportunity to capitalise on David Gevlin-Jones’ error and Bartlett delivering a difficult pass to Steve Denner outside when he had a clear run over 40 metres.
Towcestrians went at the Blues defence straight from the retart and it was backs to the wall stuff for long periods, punctated only in the 50th minute when Blues appeared to lose possession in their own 22 snatched it back for Josh Love and Bartlett to race clear in union wth the full back haring in and under the posts for Dan Thorne to convert.
Those two points were not much, but they were enough for the leagae’s sternest defence as Blues withstood enormous pressure, especially in the closing stages when a series of five metre scrums were beaten back before the welcome final whistle.