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Blues hammering on the door

Tense win at rivals sends promotion race to the wire

Malcolm Howe



Blues hammering on the door

Kyle Doel - decisive try at the finish

Old Patesians 24 Newbury Blues 26

IT IS definitely going to be a a question of does the team blink after Blues hauled themselves to within a point of second the table Patesians with three matches to play in South West One East.

A nerve-jangling finish saw Blues come from behind to claim a narrow lead that might have been overturned by James Aherne’ss last-kick penalty that could have buried Newbury’s hopes of reaching the promotion play-offs.

But it curled wide, leaving Blues to look to the immediate horizon and needing to make up a single point on the Cheltenham side, who will seal the coveted second spot if they win their remaining three fixtures with a bonus point in each.

They got one in Saturday’s game, but Blues left enough points behind to have taken second place themselves. Nick Wackwitz missed a penalty shot inside 40 seconds before Blues went ahead with a Toby Bartlett try, not converted by Wackwitz, who soon picked up a yellow card prior to Aherne shooting home for Pats.

Dan Thorne and Rory Jones took turns to miss the mark before Wackwitz obliged on his return, but a forward pass with the line beckoning for Toby Thorne, and Jamie Futcher’s mishandling with a straight run to the target kept it tight before Blues ended the first half with a superb try, created by Bartlett’s dazzling run and finished by Toby Thorne, although the conversion again went astray to leave Blues 27 point shsort of where they might have been.

And their 13-3 advantage was soon cut back when Scott Alldritt touched down within two minutes of the restart and Aherne converted, and after another Wackwitz miss, he hit the target to add a little breathing space.

But that was wiped out when Pats were awarded a penalty try for Robbie Drysdale’s offside blocking of Takuya Osaki’s pass, and the replacement converted to put his side ahead for the first time, a lead that he and try-scorer Matt Dean extended as it looked as if Blues' hopes were being buried in the long grass.

Yet Dean’s sin-binning helped a revival, and with minutes ticking away, Kyle Doel stretched over the line for Wackwitz to pot the kick that counted, along with Osaki’s last-gasp miss that leaves everything still to play for.

Newbury Blues: Bartlett; T. Thorne, D. Thorne, Love, Futcher; Wackwitz, Pigott; G. Stewart, Drysdale, Macauley; Bastable, Doel; Davis, D. Stewart, Jones. Subs: Hicks, Spanswick, Pearce.

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