Buckingham earn enthralling draw with Devizes

Phil Wright scored two tries
Phil Wright scored two tries
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A much improved performance by Buckingham saw them gain three valuable points in a thrilling encounter against Devizes that ended in a 27-27 draw.

Buckingham’s set piece was once again at its best, continually securing their own ball while disrupting the visitors’ put-in and several times and shunting them back to win the ball.

The first 20 minutes gave no indication of what was to come as both sides were unable to mount any sort of cohesive attack with unforced errors and penalties giving the large crowd little cause to get excited.

With 15 minutes played, Buckingham winger Sam Cook was sin-binned for a tip tackle, followed 10 minutes later by the visitors number 14 for a similar offence.

Finally, Buckinghams’ more aggressive approach paid off when flanker Toby Smith broke through to score the first try nearing the half hour mark.

Devizes then took the lead with a penalty followed by a try as the game sparked into life. Calum Gillie levelled the score with a penalty for offside but it was Devizes who looked the more dangerous at this point though Buckinghams defence stayed solid.

However, on the stroke of half-time, a penalty for a scrum offence in front of the posts was quickly taken while the home side were still wondering what was going on and the try scored. The easy conversion brought the half to a close and Devizes 15-8 to the good.

Devizes still had their tails up from the restart and they scored their third try after only five minutes to give them a comfortable 20 points to eight advantage.

The Buckingham forwards, with skipper Phil Wright at his best throughout the game, continued to compete strongly in all areas of the field and gradually swung this absorbing contest Buckingham’s way.

With the visitors still keen to play their part and increase their lead it took a crunching tackle by Cook to stop their outside centre in his tracks and he followed this with some storming runs to keep the defence on their toes.

Buckingham now had the go forward momentum and belatedly started to involve the threequarters who had been largely spectators until now, allowing young players Oli Crompton and Josh Graham to exploit their skills, but it was the pack who continued to make the hard yards and fittingly after a series of rucks and mauls, Wright forced his way over to narrow the gap to five points.

The best was yet to come and some slick handling among the threes up the right hand touchline got play once again to within 10 metres. By this time, Devizes were in some disarray and Buckingham’s forwards pounded the line until it was Wright again who was driven over for his second try to level the scores with 10 minutes left.

The home support had hardly got over their jubilation when Devizes got a penalty from a deliberate knock forward and three minutes later a converted try put them 27-20 in front.

As the clock ticked down, Buckingham mounted one final onslaught that took them well into the Devizes 22 and up galloped loosehead prop Matt Payne with a beautiful angle of running to take the pass and an unstoppable line to the posts.

Gillies’ nerveless conversion levelled the scores once more and brought to a close a memorable encounter.

This Saturday Buckingham travel to Oxfordshire side Grove.