BRACKNELL RFC returned to South West Premier action after a month out to record a crucial victory over Lydney to boost their survival prospects.

Dan Ap Dafydd’s men had not played for a month as heavy snow forced the postponement of the Lydney clash a fortnight earlier as well as a trip to fellow strugglers Ivybridge a week ago.

But the Lily Hill Men brushed off the cobwebs with a morale-boosting win that will go along way to securing their status for another season, and sending Lydney down.

The Gloucestershire visitors have now lost all 11 away fixtures and are bottom of the table and 19 points from safety.

Bracknell, meanwhile, are looking up the table in 10th place and now with a healthy seven-point lead over the drop zone.

Ap Dafydd was forced to shuffle his pack for the clash after Leo Bailey suffered an injury in training and was replaced by Ash Stevenson-Leigh, while winger Chris Wilson was handed his first-team debut.

The contest began on a sober note with a minute’s silence for Bracknell stalwart, Guy Elliott, who passed away last week.

Lydney then scored from their first attack of the game when second-row Dave Bennett nipped over from close quarters.

It took Bracknell 20 minutes to find a response thanks to newcomer Wilson who collected an Ian Burch pass before gathering his own chip ahead and outpacing the Lydney defence to make it 5-5.

The home wide then took the lead they would not relinquish 10 minutes before the break when former London Irish star Chris Hala’ufia crashed over from the base of a five-metre scrum following sustained pressure. Chris Laidler added the extras to make it 12-7.

To make matters worse for Lydney, they also saw fly-half Steve Parry sent to the sinbin on the stroke of half time.

Bracknell used their extra man to pull further clear after the restart and leave Lydney staring at defeat.

Bracknell News:

Bracknell make hard yards against Lydney.

They stretched their lead to 19-7 when the ball was worked wide from a ruck to Wilson, who raced over for his second try of the day, with Laidler converting.

Lydney reduced the arrears with a penalty try awarded by referee Brad Bignall for a deliberate knock on close to the home side’s line.

But it was to be Wilson’s day as the rookie winger soon completed a hat-trick of tries to earn Bracknell a bonus point following some slick hands from skipper Michael Clarke.

There was still time for Bracknell to run in two more tries when Jiute Tupua charged down a clearance before crossing the whitewash. Hala’ufia then notched his second of the day with another powerful finish from close range, Laidler converting.

Ap Dafydd beamed: “After the long lay-off I was delighted with the five-point win in very challenging conditions.”

Bracknell can take another step towards safety this Saturday when they host second-bottom Hornets (2.15pm ko).

But Ap Dafydd is well aware their opponents possess a sting in their tail after a heavy 42-17 defeat at Hornets earlier in November.

A week later after they also travel to another team in the relegation zone, Ivybridge, for a rearranged fixture after the original one on March 10 was postponed due to snow.

Bracknell: 1.Mirza,2.Clarke (C), 3.Dowding, 4. Stevenson-Leigh, 5. Goodison, 6. Salustri, 7. Sanderson, 8.Hala’ufia, 9. MacDougall, 10. Laidler, 11. Tupua, 12. Nacamavuto, 13. Burch, 14. Wilson, 15. Hills. Reps: 16. Ovens, 17. Hadad, 18. Hardwicke.