Wycombe get the marginal vote in north/south divide

Bucks Free Press: Matt Wardle Matt Wardle

FROM the rubble of a season heading for ruin High Wycombe RUFC are building something special.

They won just two of their first seven Southern Counties North games after relegation last season, and also exited the Bucks Shield in the semi-finals when they weren’t able to raise a side to face Milton Keynes.

That was the low point though, and they’ve bounced surprisingly high since then.

Saturday’s 15-14 victory over, ironically enough, Milton Keynes, made it six wins on the spin in a run that has taken them to fourth place.

Player coach Luke Harding said: “I don’t want to look at where we can end up this season. It puts pressure on people if you start thinking we can do this or that.

“We just want to take it game by game but in the next four or five weeks we’re playing teams in the top half of the league and that will determine where we’ll finish.”

Third placed Thatcham come to Kingsmead tomorrow and second-placed Aylesbury are their next visitors in early February.

After that it’s away to league leaders Bletchley.

Harding said: “If we beat Thatcham and Aylesbury we’ll be in the play-off positions.

“We can beat them, but we’ve got to step up again.”

Winning at Milton Keynes was quite a leap though, after the north Bucks side put 40 points on Wycs earlier in the campaign.

However, despite losing fly half Matt Wardle after an hour and replacing him with centre Mark O’Haire, playing a flanker on the wing and defending on their own line for 20 minutes after half time, they held on for the victory.

Harding said: “It was a hell of a result, we just played really well.

“We did the basics extremely well and should have scored more tries than we did in the first half, but the weather played a part.

“In the second half we had to play the right rugby with the wind, but the main thing was our defence.

“We hardly had the ball in the first 20 minutes of the second half and couldn’t get out of our own half. But some of the hits we made were huge and they started making mistakes because they couldn’t get over our line.

“No one gave in and everyone played for each other.

“Three months ago we’d have lost that game, but the main thing that has changed is attitude and belief.

“The players believe we can win games now and on Saturday, with those five wins on the bounce, they thought, ‘we’ve won those games, why can’t we win this one?’.”

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