Another new venue in the Jets adventure into the Zoo League. M1, M25, M4 through the sights of Windsor, Legoland, Polo Fields eventually 61 miles later arriving at our destination club. Bracknell Rugby Club is next door to a Hungry Horse Pub and had a Kebab van in the car park – it took all my efforts to stop several of the Jets forward pack from defecting there and then!
With Bracknell firsts away in Cornwall we had the pleasure of playing on the main pitch with the unusual luxury of having a stand for the supporters and an electronic scoreboard, posh or what? Many thanks to the two physios from Bracknell who took pity on their poor relations from Bedfordshire and provided us with physio support, amazing how many injuries the Jets have when the physios are young and female!
Just about ready for kick-off and flanker Josh Burton remembered his gumshield was still in the changing room so coach Jonny started the match with Ampthill making their first substitution after one minute to bring Josh on, the referee stating this to be the earliest interchange ever.
Ampthill opened up the scoring via No 12 Will Norford ( shirt sponsor RD Designs) who converted his own try, one of 4 conversion successes on the day out of 5 attempts. Bracknell showed their intent by kicking a penalty (seriously who does that!) to narrow the lead and they then took the lead from a try, the result of a Jets handling error and against the run of play.
Next try went to Ampthill when great interplay both two rampaging Jets props led to Tom Watson Ampthill No 7 (shirt sponsor Comfort Homecare) finishing. It got even better a few minutes later when hooker Alex Crawford (shirt sponsor Phil Howes) hit his man at a lineout, latching on to the ball at the back of the driving maul and over the line giving the Jets a 11 point lead over the unbeaten Bracknell side. Bracknell are not unbeaten for nothing though and came back with the final try of the half leaving Jets 19-15 to the good at oranges.
Second half we knew would be tough as we had to play up the slope but we got off to a dream start with ‘I score in every match I play’ Josh Burton , Ampthills No 6 ( shirt sponsor Larchfield Nursery) crashing over for a try. 11 point lead regained but then a 20 minute period of dominance from the Bracknell boys and 3 home tries and suddenly Bracknell were 36 26 ahead. Jets didn’t give up and a try by the loosehead prop (shirt sponsor SkyLine) narrowed the lead to just 3 points.
A long distance penalty from the excellent Bracknell 10 increased the lead to 6 leaving the Jets needing a converted try for the victory. Nail-biting stuff with coach Jonny bringing himself on to replace Simon Spavins who once again put in a massive shift for over 70 minutes in front of his proud kids (I mean his actual children, not the other Jets!). Coach Jonny’s first contribution? Getting an Ampthill penalty reversed by the ref for ‘over-aggressive pushing’ in a bit of a scuffle!
The last 5 minutes was all Ampthill who were held up just short of the posts by heroic Bracknell defence. We thought we had won it via a penalty try when the referee yellow carded a Bracknell player for a high tackle preventing a certain try but… he said our final pass was just forward so gave a penalty only. Bracknell held out, won a penalty and kicked the ball out to end the match. Jets winger Josh Lockey rushing from the pitch, grabbing his stuff, jumping in the car and dashing to his London dinner date with his better half. Jets wives and girlfriends are a very understanding bunch. Tom Watson’s wife (and one of our sponsors) will not have been impressed with his rearranged face as he had bled from both nostrils and bridge of the nose. George Adamson also bled from the nose but that doesn’t count as his nose bleeds most weeks when he gets changed before the match!
So, all the lads put their bodies on the line but an agonising 39-33 defeat for the Jets who are finding their feet at this higher level. Veteran centre Paul Mason was my man of the match playing 13 (shirt sponsor CJ Drylining) for all 80 minutes and rolling back the years with several bullocking carries and 100% commitment.
Really pleasing to get bonus points for more than 4 tries and losing within 7 points. Rest weekend next before two more tough away fixtures at Bury St Edmunds and Ealing Trailfinders, it doesn’t get any easier for the Jets. Returnees from injury should boost the squad as will delivery of our new playing shirts. Come on you Jets.