Drop looms for Leighton after latest defeat

Jacob Murtagh. Pic: Steve Draper
Jacob Murtagh. Pic: Steve Draper

Leighton Buzzard appear to be heading for the Midlands 1 East trapdoor after a 32-15 defeat to Old Northamptonians on Saturday.

Their latest defeat, while showing continued improvement since Christmas, leaves Leighton 18 points from safety with six games remaining.

Whilst there were encouraging signs, including three excellent tries, this was an inconsistent performance as Leighton failed to keep to their game plan.

Having lost the toss Leighton kicked off downhill, but into the wind. Once again Buzzards started poorly - with little possession and quickly under pressure. Whilst the initial defence was strong, it was little surprise when ONs crashed over for the opening try after six minutes to leave Leighton trailing 5-0.

A penalty further extended their lead before a loose pass allowed ONs to score between the posts to open up a 13 point lead midway through the opening half.

Despite trailing at the break, Leighton started the second half well. An early Jack Whitehouse break was then taken forward by Ross Bevan. When he was tackled just short of the line, the ball was recycled for winger James Pratt to score in the opposite corner. With just two minutes of the half played, Buzzards were back to 13-5.

Five minutes later Will Batchelor was shown a yellow card for a high tackle that only the referee saw. Despite being briefly down to fourteen men, Leighton were in the ascendancy.

As he did last week, Eddie Wiggins jinked his way through for another fine try and, whilst the straightforward conversion was missed, Buzzards now trailed 13-10.

Shortly after Buzzards second try there was an injury break. Perhaps this caused a momentary lapse in concentration as from the restart the visitor’s centre carved through untouched to score under the posts.

From a situation where Leighton were in the ascendancy and the visitors looking concerned , ONs now led 20-10 and the dynamic of the half had changed.

Ten minutes later they scored a fine try following an intricate move in the backs to take the score to 27-10.

There remained time for winger Raef Braithwaite to show his exceptional pace and score a super try from halfway and ON’s to reply with a further try with the last play of the match.