On a rainy day at the Vagrants a strong first half saw the home side promoted to their highest ever league. The home team started strongly with the wind in their favour but it soon became clear the the weather would have a strong say in the outcome of the play-off match.
Crewe & Nantwich took first blood of the game early on and after less than 14 minute a kick saw the home team take a 3-0 lead. Even then it looked as though the strong gales would make the Crewe attack much easier for the first half but 3-0 up the team weren’t looking worried.
It only took another four minutes for Crewe to establish themselves even more in the game and a good break in the sixth phase saw the team make it 8-0. Unfortunately the tight angle meant that the side couldn’t bring themselves further into the lead but an uncharacteristically small margin meant that the home side would be promoted.
As if the wind wasn’t enough to play a part in the match the heavens opened. The crowd found themselves dispersing towards the bar, maybe for shelter, or maybe just to get their hands on a pint, but their spirits weren’t quite as dampened as the pitch. That maybe because of the pint.
The wind was again in favour of Crewe & Nantwich and helped the home team get the second try. 13-0 up and the kick helped them make it 15-0. Still no reply from Banbury and they were into the business end of the half. It looked at this point as the home team were dominating play.
Just before half time though the Banbury Bulls found themselves 15-3 after a 25 metre kick. They managed to hold out until half time knowing that such a small margin could well be recovered playing with the wind in their favour.
Not long after half time the Banbury Captain managed to grab a try. The conversion from the visitors made it 15-10 and meant that the strong crowd were in for a tense finish. The visitors could well find themselves bringing it back.
Another kick from the Banbury captain Phillips made it 15-13 and the hard work Crewe & Nantwich put in during the first half looked as though it was about to be quashed by a strong fightback from the visitors.
Crewe however stayed strong, adding another kick to make it 18-13.
Despite the visitors having the passion and fight a strong Crewe & Nantwich side managed to see the game out leaving it at 18-13 and seeing Crewe & Nantwich play in the Midlands 1 League next season. Their highest level in the club’s history.
After the game, Banbury Number 10, Dan Tooth, said: “It was a tough game, these lads are made of something else, I don’t know what they feed them up here.”
A hard fought affair by Banbury but in the end the home side managed to keep their first half lead even working against the difficult conditions.