Much-improved Buzzards still end on losing side
Leighton Buzzard showed a marked improvement in their performance, but were still on the wrong end of the scoreline against Old Northamptonians, going down 10-5.
Controlling the match for long periods, they were very unfortunate to concede a late try with only three minutes remaining, leaving them with only a losing bonus point to show for their considerable efforts.
Buzzards kicked off with the benefit of a strong wind in wet and cold conditions. Immediately Leighton showed an intensity missing in recent games - a break by Nick Geoghegan gave Buzzards early encouragement, as did the solidity of the Leighton scrum.
Slowly ON’s worked their way into the match - a needless penalty, on a day when Buzzards’ discipline was much improved, allowed the home side to kick to the corner.
Whilst the initial threat was stopped, Leighton Buzzard could not get out of the twenty-two. After many phases the home side opened the scoring to take a 5-0 lead after 11 minutes. It would be over an hour before ON’s scored again.
In response the Buzzard pack was exerting pressure on the home team, keeping much of the play in the ON’s half.
With the scrum put-in Buzzards drove forward before releasing the ball for Matt Brazier to score in the corner, equalling the score at 5-5, halfway through the half.
Ten minutes later Leighton missed the chance to take the lead when a penalty drifted wide and, with no further scores, the half ended all square at 5-5.
Now playing into the wind and driving rain, Buzzards knew they had to keep the ball, as any loss of possession would be kicked long deep into their half. In the conditions their game management was excellent, retaining possession for long periods.
Early in the half, a break by Jack Whitehouse had got an excellent position , five metres out. When quick ball was prevented illegally, the referee showed a yellow card against the home side. Choosing to take a scrum from the resulting penalty, Buzzards drove forward and no. 8 and player-coach Tom Mowbray thought he had scored but was adjudged to have been held up.
Much of the second-half followed a similar pattern – Buzzards with most of the possession but being pegged back by long wind assisted kicks. ON’s did continue to offer a threat and it appeared likely they would break the deadlock with ten minutes left as their winger crossed the line, only for Buzzard full back Harri Sayer not only to tackle but to prevent a touch-down.
Just when it looked as if the match would be drawn, came the dramatic denouement with the home backs scoring with three minutes left to leave the final score 10-5. Despite the disappointment of another late defeat, the whole Leighton team knew they had played with an intensity and determination rarely seen this season.
Buzzards can take encouragement from the rock- solid front row combination of KJ Evans, Jon Henkes and Owen Forythe, the new halfback pairing of James Brett and Ollie Taylor providing speed and control, the welcome return of veteran Ed Taylor and the ever -present threat from Harri Sayer at full-back.