Aylestone St James 1sts 10 Bakewell Mannerians 1sts 28
Aylestone St James may be propping up the Midlands Two East (North) table but Covert Lane is not an easy place to claim a victory.
So for Henry Bagshawe’s side to claim their biggest away victory against the Jimmies was no mean feat.
The opening ten minutes saw Mannerians play some of the most breathtaking, controlled, yet flowing, rugby they have produced in recent years, and after only three minutes Tom Oldfield ploughed over the line for the first try.
It wasn’t surprising that a level of endeavour of such intensity could not be maintained forever, but with Crawford playing a cool tactical game, and the back row of David Boam, Ben Sizer and Will Brocklehurst scavenging every loose ball, the visitors maintained their territorial advantage. This forced the home side into errors which enabled Crawford to stretch his team’s lead with three finely-struck penalties.
The forwards were engaged in a challenging tussle with their large opponents, Nick Morgan and Sean Driscoll being in the thick of everything. The first half ended with Mannerians looking comfortable, though Jimmies had chipped away at their lead with a penalty kick.
After the turnaround, battle was joined once more as, led by the skipper and centre partner Rob Wells, Mannerians set up camp in the home half. The forwards drove on through Alastair Gregory and Sizer, Tom Crapper burst up the wing and James Turner was on hand to score.
Crawford’s conversion gave his side a 21-3 cushion, and Morgan and Driscoll had earned a breather, giving way to Tom Spencer and returning ex-skipper Max Crampton.
The visitors continued to press, but Jimmies were not about to go down without a fight, and, catching Mannerians on the break, they sped off to claim a converted try. This inspired Bagshawe’s side to further effort and, after sustained pressure, good work by Wells, Boam and Crampton tied in the defence and allowed Jack Duncan to sprint in for a fine try.
Alistair Crawford’s conversion was the last score by either team and capped a man-of-the-match performance by the Mannerians’ fly half.
Captain Bagshawe was quick to praise a performance that showed a definite upturn in desire and commitment. “But for a little more composure in the Jimmies’ ’22, the bonus point try would have been ours for the taking. All in all it was a fine away win.”
He also had this to say about Crawford’s contribution: “Ali’s marshalling of forwards and backs was decisive and the way he controlled the game is something we’ll be looking to build upon.”