Buzzards snatch victory at the end

Leighton Buzzard weathered a late storm to edge a three-point victory over Grove as they returned to South West 1 East action on Saturday.

The 25-23 win means Leighton remain sixth in the standings, but in a season of narrow margins and defeats, could be a sign of their luck beginning to turn.

Grove kicked off down the slope, and in the early exchanges their sizeable pack and centres looked to dominate.

However, in the ninth minute it was Leighton who opened the scoring, centre Jack Whitehouse finishing a penetrating backs move by scoring in the corner.

Fly half Dan David just missed with the conversion attempt, as Leighton took a 5-0 lead.

The home side’s advantage lasted only four minutes as the much vaunted Grove pack drove over from close range, their number four emerging with the ball. The conversion was kicked to give the visitor’s the lead.

In the 20th minute the visitors were penalised for holding on at a ruck. David slotted the conversion to restore The Buzzard’s advantage.

Four minutes later Leighton extended their lead, winger George Adams rounding off another rapid backs move. David added the extras to make the score 15–7.

For the rest of the half both sides grappled for supremacy, with defences having to defend tenaciously.

With only a minute of the half remaining home side flanker Peter White received a yellow card, and ten minutes in ‘the bin’ for offending at a maul. The resultant penalty kick was converted to make the half time score 15–10.

Although one short in the ranks, within one minute of the restart, Buzzards increased their advantage with the try of the game.

Geoff Branwhite started the move inside his own half, then combined with scrum half Charlie Esdon and full back Ed Ratcliffe to see the him score under the posts. David added the extras.

With White returning to the fray, all looked set fair for the home side. Alas, almost immediately they were back down to fourteen men, Captain Euan Irwin incurring the referee’s displeasure, receiving a yellow card.

In the 50th minute Grove took full advantage of their numerical supremacy with a converted push over try to make the score 22–17.

Leighton were now under pressure and in the fifty eighth minute they conceded a third try. The successful conversion tied the game at 22-22.

Now it was all to play for, but with the restoration of Irwin, and with replacement Jonathan Henkes shoring up the scrum, Leighton slowly regained control.

Henkes very nearly restored Buzzards’ lead but lost control of the ball as he crossed the try line.

Now camped in their opponents 22, the pressure told, the visitor’s conceding penalties, and from one such opportunity David kicked what turned out to be the final score of the game as Leighton won it 25-23.