Relegation now appears inevitable for Brackley RUFC after yet another disappointing performance saw them crash to a 39-0 defeat away at St Ives.
Injuries and absentees meant Brackley travelled to Cambridgeshire with a depleted squad of just 16 players to face an improving St Ives side, who scored five tries and two penalties in a straightforward victory that leaves Brackley nine points adrift of safety.
On a blustery afternoon, with the wind blowing straight down a sloping pitch, Brackley’s woes were compounded when they lost the toss and their hosts chose to play with the wind behind them, and Brackley’s kick-off was blown back across the 10 metre line; St Ives won the ensuing scrum at the halfway mark, found touch inside the Brackley 22, prevailed at the lineout and went over for a converted try – all within two minutes.
Things didn’t get any better when the restart again slewed backwards in the air. St Ives took the scrum and put the ball into the three-quarters, stretching Brackley in both directions before creating an overlap on the left and going over for an unconverted try. When St Ives added a penalty shortly afterwards, Brackley were 15-0 down with 12 minutes played.
Buoyed by a tremendous try-saving tackle from fullback Jon Cooper, Brackley rallied, only to be set back still further by a yellow card for flanker Seb Johnson and subsequent St Ives’ penalty goal. Although the visitors managed to hold their own while Johnson was in the sin-bin, St Ives demonstrated their ball distribution skills once more as half time beckoned, rounding the defence for a converted try and a score at the interval of 25-0.
With slope, wind and now driving rain in their favour, Brackley would have hoped to turn the tide in the second half, but injuries reduced the visitors to 14 men and St Ives took full advantage to run in two converted tries in the second period, wrapping up a comprehensive victory.
Brackley travel to Northampton Casuals next week for a must-win match if they are to have any chance of avoiding relegation.