After a string of great results recently, Leighton Buzzard were brought back down to Earth with a bang as they were thumped at home by high-flying Kettering.
Despite having won the last three matches, reversing a poor start to the season, Saturday’s 43-3 scoreline at Wrights Meadow was a lesson in efficiency and carrying out the rugby basics.
The result against promotion chasing Kettering sees Buzzards remain in ninth in the Midlands 1 East table, with the gap to Old Scouts ahead in eighth now standing at eight points.
For the first time this season captain Euan Irwin lost the toss, so Leighton Buzzard kicked off with the benefit of the slope but into a slight wind.
Kettering were quickly into their stride – from a free kick given at an early scrum, the visitors made good ground. Whilst the initial threat was cleared, the away team drove over from the resulting line-out to take a 5-0 lead after only five minutes.
Despite this early set-back Buzzards continued to threaten, notably from an excellent break from his own 22 by Geoff Branwhite that ended with fellow winger, Luke Stanbridge, being stopped just short of the line.
Whilst Kettering extended their lead with a long penalty after 20 minutes, Ollie Taylor pulled three points back to make the score 8-3 after 26 minutes.
Poor defensive alignment allowed the Kettering full-back to carve through the home defence to score a fine individual try after 32 minutes, which, with the conversion and a further penalty with the last play of the half, gave the visitors an 18-3 lead at the break.
Despite the deficit the Buzzards remained competitive, although once again Kettering were ruthless when an opportunity arose.
Seven minutes into the half, Leighton lost the ball in their 22 and the visitors quickly spread it wide for a try in the corner (3 – 23). The next fifteen minutes were Leighton’s best spell of the game controlling possession and territory.
Just when it looked as if the home side would finally cross the line after a period of forward pressure, an accidental offside thwarted their best opportunity. Kettering defence remained strong and, as they did all game, once the opportunity arose they took it with a clinical efficiency. Winning turnover ball in their own half, they broke down the left wing to score a fine converted try to leave Buzzards, slightly unluckily, 30-3 down with seventeen minutes to go.
Having weathered the best Buzzards could throw at them, Kettering upped the intensity to score two further tries, both the results of fast transfer of the ball and speed of execution to leave the final score 43-3.
Despite being well beaten, the Buzzards kept their effort and commitment high against the best side they have played this season. Leighton remain ninth in Midlands 1 East and next week travel to 11th-placed Wellingborough.
>> Leighton Buzzard 2nds and 3rds combined to beat a similar combination from Milton Keynes 55-24.
Taking advantage of the hill, Leighton opened up the scoring early with some quick hands and good running lines. That set the tone for the half with Leighton scoring multiple tries with MK unable to answer.
The second half was a different story with MK coming out fighting.
Leighton had to up their physicality and tackling to hold off Milton Keynes’ strong runners.
Despite Leighton’s best efforts MK managed to get on the score board four times in the second half converting two of them.