Buckingham crowned county champions

Pat Ockendon

Pat Ockendon

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Buckingham have been crowned Bucks County Cup champions after they put aside their league woes to defeat Marlow 34-15 in the final.

In an exciting encounter in front of a large crowd, both sides played expansive running rugby from the first whistle, resulting in a nine-try extravaganza with Buckingham running out winners.

Once again it was the forwards who provided the foundations for the visitors as they regularly shunted their opponents back in the scrum, while the backs finally played with more cohesion and fluidity, scoring three of the six tries.

Buckingham made a strong start and after Marlow were penalised inside their own half, Calum Gillie found a touch for a line-out 10 metres from the try line, from which the visitors gathered the ball and, aided by a yellow card for a Marlow forward, rumbled over for the first try with Jamie Temple touching down.

Marlow looked for an instant reply but instead it was Buckingham who were next to score when they worked their way upfield and Phil Wright crossed for a try on 18 minutes.

The home side hit straight back, however, when their nippy scrum half exploited a gap in the Buckingham defence and raced away to touch down for an unconverted try.

Both sides repeatedly tested each other before the decisive spell in the match put Buckingham in control as they struck twice in quick succession on the stroke of half-time.

First, from another transgression by Marlow, a perfect Gillie kick to the corner enabled the forwards to once again put in an unstoppable pick and drive, with Pat Ockendon emerging with the ball for try number three.

Almost immediately, Marlow lost control off the ball in attack and Josh Graham’s scorching run along the left wing took him clear of all pursuers, giving him the simple task of dotting down for a fourth try and with Gillie slotting over the straightforward conversion, Buckingham led 22-5 at the interval.

The hosts came out with some purpose after the change round with their backs particularly impressive and in one fluent attack, a Buckingham back rower was sin-binned for a tip tackle and from the resulting penalty, they swept upfield to score with just over five minutes of the half played.

Marlow continued their period of good pressure but as in recent weeks, the Buckingham defending remained resolute and repelled any threat.

Eventually Buckingham broke the siege and it was Marlow’s turn to back peddle and as they became more desperate in attack, errors crept into the home side’s game.

Having won a penalty, Marlow lost possession after some wayward passing, which allowed Jak Cluness to sweep up the loose ball and make good ground before setting Jamie Hulston free to score out wide.

With the visitors then receiving their third yellow of the day, Marlow made full use of their advantage with a surge from their backs taking them over the Buckingham line.

However, Buckingham were not finished and they had the final say through Ben Curley’s try. Gillie added the extras to put the icing on the cake and wrap up victory, with the final whistle sparking jubilant scenes among the Buckingham players and support.

The team switch their focus back to avoiding relegation in South West One East when they host Grove this weekend, with victory essential if they are to have any chance of beating the drop.