Leighton Buzzard know a place in the Bedfordshire RFU Cup final is at stake when they take on Biggleswade next week.
Having won in their previous two, Leighton go into the game off the back of a 37-18 defeat to high flying Kettering though. Despite the scoreline, Director of Rugby Dave Larham said there was plenty to build on and to be proud of ahead of their semi final clash.
“We should be justifiably proud of certain elements of our performance,” he said.
“We were forced to make several enforced changes to our team and knew the qualities that Kettering would bring.
“Our pre-match focus was to earn their respect and build on our last two winning performances. Against higher quality opposition, I felt we performed better than when we won recent games against Bugbrooke and then Huntingdon & District.
“There were several stand out performances, however I felt it was all of the players raising their game to attain a competitive standard for most parts of the 80 minutes.”
Leighton made the stronger start and were soon pressing the visitors line but the well organised defence of the Kettering team kept the home side out. A counter attack stretched the Leighton defence and Kettering were soon five points ahead. This was followed ten minutes later by a penalty to stretch the lead to 8-0.
Leighton were playing well but could breach the visitors’ defences. When Kettering had the ball and started to make yards Leighton had to work hard in defence and managed to repel the advances until a missed tackle allowed a break through the centres and Kettering were 15-0 ahead at the break.
Leighton started to drive through the middle and managed to pick up penalties for infringements in the 22 area.
This resulted in Ollie Taylor stepping up and collecting six points to narrow the lead to 15-6.
Kettering were always dangerous and extended their lead with another try when Leighton managed to get one back through former captain Euan Irwin bursting through the centre. The conversion by Taylor made it 22-13 and left Leighton wondering whether they could get back into it.
But Kettering quickly put a stop to those thoughts as they pulled ahead again, scoring their fourth try to make it 29-13.
Leighton’s Arran Perry had other ideas though and managed to add to the Leighton total with another well worked try to reduce the arrears again, now 29-18.
Kettering were not finished and showed their fitness and skills to add one more try and, with the final kick of the match added a penalty to make the final score 37-18 in the visitors’ favour.
The result means Leighton remain ninth in Midlands 1 East, a point behind Bugbrooke.