Leighton Buzzard fell just short of a dramatic upset against Towcestrians before eventually falling to thte league leaders 19-11.
Cruelly the 8 point difference at the end meant Buzzards just missed out on a losing bonus point that their endeavours surely merited.
The effort and fighting spirit rightly impressed the home crowd which included many injured first team regulars.
Having lost the toss, Buzzards kicked off, playing down the slope – unusually for Wight’s Meadow there was no perceivable wind but conditions were cold and dry. In the early stages the home side had territorial advantage but it was Towcester who took the lead after 17 minutes with a penalty following an offence at a ruck to move 3-0 ahead.
Buzzards response was quick – a Dan David kick was re-gathered by Euan Irwin allowing a swift break-out from their own half. The ensuing move was held up just short of the Towcester line but the pressure told with a Lee Walker penalty bringing the scores level after 25 minutes at 3-3.
The League leaders have an excellent pack and whilst Leighton were conceding nothing in the scrum, they were unable to prevent a rolling maul from a line-out driving over to give Towcestrians the first try of the game after 30 minutes. With the conversion missed, the score was 8-3, which is how it remained to half-time.
At half-time Buzzards welcomed back substitute, and former captain, Ryan Fraser for his first game for 21 months giving his substantial presence and experience to the pack.
Whilst Towcestrians extended their lead with an early second-half penalty (3-11), Buzzards were increasingly in the ascendancy. Desperate and illegal defence brought a yellow card for the Towcester inside centre after eight minutes - sensing the moment, Buzzards went for the try rather than taking the penalty points but the initial threat was thwarted. However Buzzards were undaunted – working through the phases and playing with a real urgency. Finally a Sam Richbell burst was recycled and swift hands from Dan David and Lee Walker created an overlap for Ollie Taylor to score in the corner. With the conversion missed Leighton were now only three points behind at 11-8 with over 20 minutes left.
Penalties were exchanged to leave the score 14-11.
With 12 minutes left the League leaders scored the decisive try – whilst it was a well-executed move in the backs there was more than a hint of crossing, taking out at least one defender –but unseen by the referee- before scoring in the corner. The conversion was missed leaving the score 19-11, which is how it remained to full time.
Buzzards can take pride from a fine performance knowing they pushed a team, almost certain to be promoted, to the limit.
Leighton slip to eighth but are only three points behind fifth placed Maidenhead who they play next week.
Leighton Buzzard RFC are looking to re-connect with former players through a monthly newsletter. If interested please email Andy Tooley at email@example.com