Leighton Buzzard are continuing their climb up the Midlands 1 East table with a 22-5 victory over Lutterworth on Saturday.
Having flirted dangerously with the relegation zone in the early throws of 2017, Buzzards have put together a decent run, and now sit eighth in the table thanks to five wins in their last seven matches.
Their latest win was based on opportunism on their rare attacks and solid defence against the visitors, who dominated possession and territory for long periods of the second half.
Having won the toss, Leighton played downhill but against the wind. The initial phases were mostly in midfield and rather scrappy with neither side able to dominate.
Finally a clean break by the Buzzard centres, Mike Robert and Euan Irwin, allowed the supporting Ollie Taylor to score under the posts. Taylor converted his own try to give Leighton a 7-0 lead after 13 minutes.
Whilst both sides had opportunities, the two defences dominated play, helped by a number of knock-ons in what appeared a nervy first-half.
However with the last play of the half, man of the match, Ryan Fraser breached the Lutterworth defence with a typically barnstorming run.
Whilst he was tackled just short, the ball was quickly recycled for Wills Messum to score in the corner.
The difficult conversion was missed to leave the half-time score 12-0.
The second half started well for Leighton – choosing to take the scrum option from a penalty deep in the Lutterworth twenty-two, the ball was spread wide for winger Arran Perry to score and, by running round behind the posts, he made Ollie Taylor’s conversion more straightforward.
Shortly afterwards, Lee Walker converted a long-range penalty to give Buzzards a 22-0 lead with half an hour to play.
Despite being well behind, the visitors, who are fifth in the league, raised their game. Backed by a large travelling support, much of the game was now played in the Buzzard half as the Lutterworth pack put considerable pressure on the Leighton scrum.
However the home defence was committed and unbending as time and again Lutterworth threatened the line. Becoming increasingly frustrated, Lutterworth conceded a number of penalties, allowing Leighton to clear, but ultimately the pressure told with a fine try in the corner.
The attempted conversion unluckily hit the post to leave the final score 22-5.
The victory moves Buzzards up to eighth, five points and four places above the final relegation place.
With Ilkeston and Dronfield already relegated, six teams remain at risk for the final relegation place.
Whilst it is in Leighton’s control, they still need six points from the final two games to be mathematically sure of retaining their Midlands 1 league place.
Next week Leighton make the long trip to ninth-placed Market Rasen and Louth.