An inexperienced Leighton Buzzard side were thumped by Peterborough in their return to Midlands 1 East competition, going down 50-18 on Saturday.
Leighton handed league debuts to two players and saw Jack Whitehouse take over as skipper in the absence of Mike Lynch but were trailing after just five minutes as Peterborough ran in their first try.
Slowly Buzzards established good territory with breaks by Jack Whitehouse and Reece Harris-Smith. Unable to cross the line, the pressure gave the opportunity for Ollie Taylor to reduce the lead to 7-3, with a penalty after ten minutes.
However a scrum lost against the head three minutes later, resulted in the home side’s second try to take the lead to 12-3.
Back came Buzzards, but a dropped ball in the Peterborough twenty-two almost led to a breakaway try, saved by a last ditch tackle by Reece Harris-Smith.
Leighton were now pinned close to their line and whilst the next attack was held up, there was a sense of inevitability as Peterborough scored in the corner.
Having conceded three tries in the first 20 minutes and losing 17-3, many sides would have cracked. Despite their inexperience Buzzards fought back with such spirit that, less than half an hour later, they were to take the lead. An Ollie Taylor penalty after twenty-three minutes had reduced the lead to 17-6.
Then with four minutes of the half remaining, number 8 Reece Harris-Smith, who had an excellent game, broke from a scrum and when tackled just short of the line, offloaded to Jack Whitehouse to score. With Ollie Taylor’s conversion the half time score was 17-13.
Leighton continued to show enterprise in the early part of the second half and after eight minutes worked the ball wide to debutant winger, Ben Johnson, who finished expertly in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed but Buzzards led 17-18.
Peterborough had had the majority of possession and territory and this set-back prompted them to play a more expansive style than their rather cautious first-half game plan. The Leighton lead was short-lived, with the home side scoring their fourth try two minutes later and a fifth after fifteen minutes, to give Peterborough a 31-18 lead.
With Buzzard’s scrum under pressure and also having difficulty securing their own lineout ball due to the wind and expertise of the Peterborough front jumper, Leighton were struggling for possession.
The home side quickly built their lead scoring fine tries through their backs in the nineteenth and twenty-third minutes leaving the score 43-18.
Again Buzzards fought back with some fine attacking moments of their own and although they conceded a further try with seven minutes left, it was Leighton who came closest to scoring in the final minutes - Dan Baroux being held up over the line following a lineout move.
The final score of 50-18 had a slightly unrepresentative feel of the game and Buzzards can reflect that with a young, inexperienced side and limited possession they had been competitive throughout. Buzzards remain 10th, nine points clear of the relegation places.
Coach Tom Mowbray commented: “I took a young enthusiastic side up the A1 to Peterborough, and although the score line was heavily against us I thought we played some excellent rugby in patches.
“By the 50th minute these patches were working as we managed to crawl in front with the score at 18-17.
“Fatigue and injuries slowly crept in and the boys started to tire. There are lots of positives but still a lot to do on Tuesday and Thursday in preparation for top of the league Syston.”