Leighton throw away their lead again

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Another second half collapse reared its ugly head on Saturday as they slumped to a 22-13 defeat against Witney.

Having suffered a similar fate last time out against Grove, Leighton were keen to make amends, and pull off the double against Witney, having snatched a last minute victory in Oxfordshire when the sides met back in November.

Leighton took the lead after just six minutes at Wrights Meadow as the visitors were penalised for offside at a ruck and centre Geoff Branwhite opened the scoring.

As expected the game then became a battle for territorial supremacy, with neither side conceding ground. The crowd had to wait until the twenty first minute for a score to help them forget how cold standing on the touchline could be. Again the points went to the home side as Branwhite took advantage of another Witney indiscretion, doubling Leighton’s advantage.

Unfortunately flanker Tom Byard was injured in this passage of play, leaving the field to play no further part in the game.

Wills Messum left the interchange bench to replace the number 6. However, it was not all bad news as two minutes later winger Luke Stanbridge took advantage of a Witney knock on to gather the ball and scorch though the visitor’s defence to score under the posts.

Branwhite kicked the conversion to make the score 13-0 in the home side’s favour.

The visitors came back at Leighton and in the twenty ninth minute opened their account when the Buzzards transgressed at a ruck. Full Back Phil Thomas successful with the penalty kick.

Things then got worse for the home side. Having sustained an ankle injury earlier in the game, hooker Ed Payne couldn’t hobble on any longer and was forced to leave the field to be replaced by Greg Falcon.

Almost immediately Stanbridge sustained an arm injury, only temporary, to be replaced by Ben Beaumont.

With six minutes of the half remaining and the interchange bench empty, things did not look good for the home side.

However they managed to hold on, leading by 13–3 at the interval.

With the slope and breeze in their favour it took only three minutes for the visitors to break through the home defence.

After good phase play by the forwards Second Row Dave Hyde crashed over for Witney’s opening try.

Thomas was successful with the conversion to further reduce the arrears.

Witney were now in the ascendancy with their pack dominating the scrums.

In the 66th minute the pressure told. Slick work from the Witney backs opened up space wide right for Jake Thomas to exploit and give his side the lead.

The visitor’s secured the victory with two minutes remaining when they gathered the ball from a Leighton kick, and following a succession of rucks, number eight Joe Rowles crossed the whitewash. Thomas kicked the conversion to make the final score 22–13.

The Buzzards drop to seventh place in the league table. However they can take heart from the fact that despite losing key players through injury early in the game they still put up a spirited display.

They now face lowly Maidenhead RFC at Wrights Meadow next Saturday kicking off at 3pm.