Buckingham kept their survival hopes alive with an excellent 17-8 home victory over Maidenhead in South West One East.
Having been plagued by injuries all season, Buckingham were finally able to field their best 18 players against their Berkshire opponents and it showed as they contained Maidenhead for long periods before moving up a gear in the second half to secure victory.
The hosts made an explosive start when they were awarded a scrum straight from kick-off and the ball was moved across field via Pat Ockendon, James Hulston and Sam Cook to the left where Josh Graham cantered away from opposing defenders for a try after only two minutes.
Though the conversion was missed, Buckingham looked full of running and they continued to batter the visitors’ line for the first quarter with Maidenhead penned onto their own try line.
Eventually the away side broke out and on their first visit to the Buckingham 22, they kicked a penalty to reduce the arrears before the home defence withstood further pressure to maintain a 5-3 lead at half-time.
Maidenhead resumed with some purpose, enjoying the majority of the early possession, and the pressure paid off as they found a long touch for a line-out close to the try line, from which they rumbled over to take the lead.
The game was now evenly poised for whichever side would seize the opportunity and it was Buckingham who gained the upper hand, forcing Maidenhead deep into their own 22 from a penalty. In the loose play that followed, the visitors lost a player to the sin-bin and again Buckingham kicked to the corner, which led to a great catch and drive by the forwards with Ockendon touching down to restore the home side’s two-point advantage at 10-8.
From the Maidenhead restart, Buckingham repeated the trick of their second-minute try when the ball was moved swiftly along the backs to Graham, who scorched over from some 50 metres out for a second try in two minutes.
Hulston added the extras and Graham almost completed his hat-trick when the ball bounced agonisingly into touch before he could reach it, but Buckingham had little trouble in seeing out the final minutes as they recorded an invaluable victory.
Buckingham remain in the bottom three ahead of this week’s trip to Newbury.