Old Scouts were crowned Midlands 2 East (South) champions on a bizarre afternoon at Rushmere Road on Saturday.
Scouts suffered a comprehensive 34-6 defeat to Wellingborough, a side who remain hopeful of securing a play-off spot.
A downbeat looking Scouts squad left the field thinking that they would still require a win in their last fixture to capture the promotion that their performances for the majority of the season had warranted.
Players sat with their heads down in the dressing room, but they suddenly sprang to life when they heard that bottom club Stewarts & Lloyds had beaten the only side that could have grabbed the glory from them, Biggleswade.
Opting to receive the kick-off against a strong blowing wind, Scouts played straight into Wellingborough’s hands as they continually attempted to clear their lines by running out of defence.
The strong tackling visitors pressed hard and pounced on every Scouts mistake, which resulted in fly-half Pete Vickers kicking three penalties in the first 10 minutes.
Dan McMurray did make a clean break for Scouts, although the ball was turned over close to the line and ‘Boro cleared with ease.
Adam Frost converetd a penalty to get the hosts on the board.
Vickers was getting used to the wind and several well floated up and unders troubled the home side’s defence. From one of these kicks Boro were awarded another penalty when Scouts infringed and although there was mass brawl on one side of the pitch the game continued and a quick tap penalty saw Wellingborough increase their lead with a converted try.
A fourth penalty before the break ensured that Scouts had their work cut out if they were going to get anything out of the game.
Chasing a play-off spot, Boro were glad of the half-time lead and adopted the tactics that Scouts should have used in the first half, keeping the ball up their jumpers to gain territory before letting the ball out to the backs.
Scouts needed an early score but it never looked like coming. Vickers added his fifth penalty and although Frost soon replied, Boro held a comfortable 22-6 lead going into the final quarter.
Whatever Scouts threw at Boro ended in penalties or turnovers and the visitors, anxious to gain a bonus point, continued to boss the game but could only manage two further tries, one of which Vickers converted from the touchline against a howling wind.
Wellingborough now travel to Biggleswade in two weeks’ time for a winner-takes-all match with the result being a play-off against Coalville for the third promotion spot.
Meanwhile, Scouts U18s travelled to Wellingborough to play Leighton Buzzard in their league final and came out on top 10-5.
ONs 31 Belgrave 19
ONs were left battered, bruised and exhausted as they edged out Belgrave in Leicester on Saturday to gain another five league points.
For most of the squad it was their third game in seven days and they were forced to dig deep to secure their 20th league win. But dig deep they did, against a Belgrave side who battled hard throughout and were perhaps unlucky not to gain both a losing and try bonus point.
The ONs kicked off with a fierce wind blowing across the pitch and after regaining possession, the ball was shipped left and Jake Spencer raced into the corner.
The ONs had further chances but the final execution was missing and when they lost possession on half way the Belgrave full-back kicked on and gathered to touch down under the posts and add the simple conversion.
On 25 minutes, the ONs were forced into a reorganisation when Calum Brennan went off with a knee injury.Dan Napier moved into the back row, Alex LeGuevel went to second row and Alex Tollan replaced Napier on the wing.
An Alex Rose break and kick gave Belgrave a lineout five metres from their own line but despite the ONs then winning the throw in,strong defence prevented a score and minutes later Rory Seymour was stopped just short. A quickly taken penalty was driven on by the ONs pack and when the ball was released Seymour went over close to the posts. With Rose’s conversion, the ONs led 12-7 at the break.
The ONs had an early chance as the second half resumed when Seymour collected a clearance kick, but after weaving through the first line of tacklers the final pass was lost forward. However, from another wayward kick the vistors scored their third try.
This time it was Tollan with the catch and initial break and when the ball was recycled, well timed passes across the backs put Kieran O’Connor in.
Belgrave replied with a converted try from short range before the ONs registered their bonus-point try.
Again it came from a counter attack involving Seymour, who found Tollan in support, and after the winger had made 40 metres his pass put O’Connor over for his second and the ONs’ fifth try quickly followed.
Matt Mills won clean lineout ball and a strong run from Ben Hammersley carried play into midfield, Rose found Napier who powered over and with Rose converting both tries, the ONs led 31-14.
Belgrave came back and reduced the deficit with a second score from close range and as the final whistle approached, the ONs defence three times held up Belgrave drives over the line before Robbie Aitchison won a penalty and put the ball into touch to end the game.
St Ives 3 Long Buckby 51
Long Buckby made it eight wins out of eight as they destroyed St Ives 51-3 in Midlands Three East South - with Andy Oliver running in for a hat-trick of tries.
Buckby had the wind at the backs in the first half and opened up a 27-0 lead, and although it was harder work after the break, they still won the second period 24-3.
Heathens 26 Old Scouts IIIs 20
Heathens secured victory in their final merit fixture of the season.
Josh Budd, Dan Stonehouse, Marty Campbell and Mark Allison scored the tries.
This weekend Heathens are participating in the Outlaws Easter Rugby Tournament at Northampton Old Scouts, which is being held on Saturday.