Leighton Buzzard rounded out 2017 with their worst defeat in more than 10 years as they were crushed 62-5 at home to Paviors on Saturday.
The Nottinghamshire side tore Leighton to shreds, thanks in no large part to Fijian centre Teri Veilawa, who gave an attacking display of a quality rarely seen at this level.
But in slumping to their ninth defeat in 14 games, Leighton slipped to 10th in the Midlands 1 East table, rounding out a tough second half to the year.
“We had a positive first half where we created a number of scoring opportunities, but unfortunately we only managed to take one of those,” said coach Tom Mowbray afterwards. “That’s how it stayed for the rest of the game.
“Through our own mistakes in the first half we gifted Paviors their tries. The second half was all about Paviors and us becoming fatigued.
Coach Mowbray continued: “We’ll work hard over Christmas and look to build towards a bright and successful 2018.”
Paviors kicked off with the benefit of the slope – whilst the initial kick was cleared, the visitors counterattacked, recycled the ball and within fifty seconds had scored in the corner. Buzzards’ response was swift – full-back Darren Braybrook made the initial break, chipped the ball over the full-back and won the race for the touchdown. With only three minutes played, the score was 5-5.
Buzzards were struggling to gain possession and the majority of the play was in their half. However the defence was solid and it took a fine individual try from the Paviors centre after eighteen minutes to restore their five point lead. Slowly Leighton were coming back into the game-an excellent break in the centre by Jack Whitehouse was stopped just short and, when the ball was recycled, Jack Kempster was held up in the corner.
However despite Buzzard endeavour, the visitors were clinical when they had their opportunities scoring further tries in the thirty-third minute following a break by their left winger and with the last play of the half following a forward drive. Neither try was converted to leave the half time score 5 -20.
Dan Baroux had been shown a yellow card at the end of the half so Buzzards restarted with fourteen men. Initially Leighton appeared to be holding out well – but six minutes into the half a clever kick to the corner gave the visitor’s winger the opportunity to touch down. Having missed all four first half conversions, the Paviors kicker converted from the touch line – suddenly finding his kicking boots he did not miss again all afternoon.
Straight from the kick off Paviors spread the ball wide to add a further try to make the score 5-34. Further converted tries were added in the seventeenth and twentieth minutes to leave the score 5-48, with still a quarter of the match to go.
Facing the possibility of a heavy defeat turning into a rout, Buzzards bravely rallied. Leighton put together phases of possession with a number of breaks with centre Mike Robert prominent - but the Paviors defence held firm. As they had shown all afternoon- when the visitors had opportunities they were clinical - scoring further tries after thirty-three minutes following a rolling maul and with the last play of the game following another break from their centre.
Unlike the previous week when Buzzards had contributed to their own downfall, there was a realisation that they were well beaten by an excellent side on the top of their game.
Leighton slip to tenth and now have a two week break before returning to league action in the new year at Peterborough.