HIGH WYCOMBE RFC are two games away from a hat-trick of Bucks County titles, but their preparations weren't great.

Manager Mike Cussell says nerves got the better of his players as their National League ambitions died with a 23-14 play-off defeat at Newton Abbot on Saturday.

Wycombe never got out of the blocks and were 23-0 down at the break.

Winning the second half 14-0 only emphasised what might have been achieved had they managed to start properly.

Cussell said: “You could see the tension in the players. Playing in the National Leagues means a lot to them and they looked very nervous.

“Many of them have played in a Bucks Cup Final, but this game was something different and probably bigger than that.

“It was something they hadn’t experienced and for the first 25-30 minutes we were awful.”

Wycombe’s start was perhaps in the stars. In each of their three previous matches they began in reverse before moving through the gears to see off Olney, Walcot and Bletchley.

Cussell said: “Those games were all dead rubbers so it was difficult to get into them.

“We spoke about that before the game because we knew we couldn’t afford to do that against Newton Abbot, but talking about it and doing it is not the same thing.”

The long journey on the morning of the match didn’t help either.

With all the local coaches booked up for Wasps fans travelling to Twickenham, the squad drove down in their own cars, leaving Wycombe at 9am.

A hotel stay on Saturday night helped the players drown their sorrows after the defeat, but Cussell says going down the evening before the game was not feasible as many of the players couldn’t get away.

Despite the defeat, the season is not over yet for Wycombe.

On Sunday they go to Milton Keynes in the semi-final of the Bucks Cup.

Cussell admits that there is a danger his players will have switched off for summer by then, but insists the prospect of a third successive county cup is a big motivation.

He said: “We want to win it again. We’ve won it two years on the trot and we want the hat-trick.”