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Jake Duxbury holds his nerve as Baildon win thriller
Manchester Medics 24, Baildon 26
Jake Duxbury proved he had ice in his veins to kick holders Baildon into the RFU Junior Vase semi-finals yesterday.
From a sea of mud, the 18-year-old fly half landed the match-winning penalty in the fifth minute of injury time to keep his team’s treble hopes alive and leave the South Lancashire and Cheshire Division Three leaders heartbroken.
Duxbury, who had earlier kicked three penalties and two conversions in a match that Baildon seemed destined to lose, said of the late penalty, which was in front of the posts on the 22: “I felt under pressure and shaky as I missed one in the first half while I can nail them from the touchline.
“But I took a few deep breaths, didn’t want to rush it and just concentrated on my technique.”
Baildon’s head coach Dave Duxbury, Jake’s father, said of his team: “They have some guts. I thought we had lost it when they went ahead in the 78th minute.”
Baildon’s fitness coach Dave Hoyle added: “The scrum that won us that late penalty was our best of the season.”
Getting to the pitch at Bowdon RUFC proved something of an adventure. It entailed a lengthy walk from the clubhouse through mud and soggy grass past two pitches to the far side of another pitch.
“If I had walked for ten minutes at a home match I would have thought we were playing away,” confessed Baildon supporter John ‘Bull’ Taylor just after kick-off.
With winger Hayden Lister selflessly opting out of the starting XV 90 minutes before kick-off because of a chest infection, Baildon gave JJ O’Connell his chance, and the right winger didn’t disappoint.
However, at half-time on a pitch that contained at least eight pools of standing water, Baildon trailed 14-9, Duxbury’s three penalties keeping them in touch.
The lead in what was a compelling contest was to change hands six times in all, Baildon’s forward enforcer Phil Wilson forcing his way over in the 54th minute and Duxbury converting to give the visitors the edge at 16-14.
However, they again had to come from behind to lead 23-21 on the hour when O’Connell intercepted and ran 40 metres to score, Duxbury adding the extras to put the Jenny Laners two points in front.
All seemed lost when Wilson was offside two minutes from time, Tom Boulter’s penalty looking to have clinched matters before Duxbury’s injury-time dramatics earned Baildon a home tie against Midlanders Old Yardleians on Saturday, March 30.