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Stamford College Old Boys are beaten by Brackley in Midlands 4 East (South)

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Stamford College Old Boys had victory snatched from their grasp as they suffered late heartbreak against Brackley in Saturday's Midlands 4 East (South) match.

The visitors converted a penalty in the dying throes to condemn the Old Boys to second successive reversal following last week's opening day defeat at Biggleswade.

With treacherous conditions underfoot and in the air for their first home match of the season, College immediately took control of the first 10 minutes, playing excellently phased rugby.

The home side's pack moved the inferior visitors around the pitch well and the first score came from a driving maul that was set out halfway into the Brackley 22.

Some expert communication and lots of hard work from the likes of Pickerill and Harker managed to carve though the defence and allow hooker Dan Smith over for one of the easier tries in his career. Haydn Johns was on hand to add the extra points on offer to make the score 7-0.

Keen to keep up the pressure, College worked about getting deeper into the Brackley half as some slick hands from Farthing and Rogers meant some forward momentum for Stamford as quick ball kept the visitors on their toes.

Brackley did concede a penalty for not rolling away relatively central to the posts and skipper Johns decided to take the points on offer and slotted through the posts for a 10-0 lead.

With Stamford College seemingly playing their style of rugby, some complacencies crept into their game and this allowed the visitors to go over for the first score of the day. The conversion was added to make the score 10-7.

In an identical scoring pattern to the College, Brackley then took a penalty shot at goal and succeeded with it to make the score a respectable 10-10 going into half-time.

The first few substitutes were made with Callum Johns coming into the pitch for Wilkinson at scrum half and Greenslade making way for home debutant Harry Bell out on the wing with Brierley-Lewis moving to full-back.

With the wind slightly in their favour this half, Stamford College kicked off and set to turn the tempo up a notch.

However, the visitors were looking to do the same and it was the team in blue and white who struck first in the second half with another three points kicked to make the score 10-13.

Unfortunately, a complete switch off of common sense saw Brackley cleverly capitalise once more as they fly-hacked the ball forward from a scrappy kick off and darted over in the corner for their second score.

The conversion albeit tricky was successfully kicked and made the score 10-20 to the visitors.

After a stern talking too under the posts for the home team, Harker and Durman left the field to make way for Heath and Rodrigues respectively.

College rallied and found themselves in a similar position to their first try and, although behind on the scoreboard, they had dominated set piece all day taking many scrums and line-outs against the head.

Another successful catch and drive saw Dan Smith go across for his second try of the day. The conversion was added to make the score 17-20 going into the last 15 minutes.

However, some more carelessness saw Stamford give away another penalty within range of the Brackley boot.

The kick sailed through the blustery rain and the posts to push the visitors out ahead by six points at 17-23.

Fraser and Johns both picked up minor knocks and left the field within minutes of each other to be replaced by Barringer and the return of Greenslade.

With fresh legs on the rain sodden ground, College needed a converted try to take the lead.

And, with some excellent pod work from Steele, Darlington and Heath, this allowed the backs to work some space.

Some quick and precise handling allowed the ball out to Bell who used quick feet and muscular ability to take himself over the try line with multiple defenders hanging off of him.

The many supporters who had braved the elements burst into celebration at the score knowing a good conversion would take the lead and almost certainly the win.

The kick went through and the College took the lead by a solitary point with just minutes left on the clock.

However, Brackley enjoyed the last wealth of possession as they looked for anything to get onto the scoreboard.

And, much to the dismay of the home crowd, a penalty was given to the travelling side just outside the Old Boys' 22 metre line on a slight angle.

Their skipper pointed to the posts for the most important kick of the whole game.

After some solid from the kicking tee all game, he did not disappoint as he put it through the posts to make the score 24-26.

Nothing more could be done as the referee brought an end to the game. The dismal weather representing the mood among both Stamford College players and supporters alike.

Although victory was cruelly snatched away at the death, the boys in red and green had many positives to take away and the cohesion and progression among the team is certainly visible.

They will be looking to kick-start their league campaign away at Deepings this weekend in a derby day showdown.

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