First half nerves cost Leighton as leaders earn hard fought win

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Leighton Buzzard are down to sixth in South West 1 East after a 28-10 defeat to league leaders Chippenham.

On a day when the bottom three all won, Witney’s defeat of second placed Towcestrians saw them leapfrog both Buzzards and Newbury, relegating the Bedfordshire side to sixth in the table.

Chippenham kicked off and soon found themselves camped in visiting territory. Despite the best efforts of Buzzards’ defence it took only two minutes for the table toppers to open their account. Slick handling from their backs saw Jimmy Owen waltz through under the posts. Centre Sam Saunders kicked the conversion.

Things got worse after five minutes when Buzzards were penalised for tackling a Chippenham player without the ball. Saunders kicked the resultant penalty to extend the home side’s lead.

Things were tough with 15 players so when Leighton were reduced to 14 when Tom Byard was yellow carded for not rolling away, the visiting supporters were beginning to fear the worst.

From a lineout second row Chris Day leapt to secure the ball and was driven over for the second try. Saunders again successful with the conversion to make the score 17–0.

Just as Leighton were restored to a full complement of players with the return of Byard, almost immediately they were back down to 14 when Hooker Ed Payne received a yellow card for some over vigorous handiwork.

However, inch by inch, Buzzards worked their way into the match and started to put some passages of play together with scrum half Charlie Esdon at the vanguard.

The home side were now having to defend, but right on half-time fly half Dan David put in a subtle kick to the corner, the bounce deceived the Chippenham winger allowing full back Ed Ratcliffe to open the visitors’ account to make it 17–5 at the half.

Leighton started the second half with renewed vigour. Pressure was now on the home side who were conceding penalties.

Securing the line-out ball Leighton, set up a driving maul and second row Zak Tift crashed over. David just missed with the conversion attempt.

Leighton were now in the ascendancy and Chippenham were giving away penalties as the pressure told.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the referee was unable to find his yellow card, the award of which was surely deserved for the frequency of home side infringements.

Two minutes after getting within reach, a penalty for not releasing was awarded against the visitors and the reliable Saunders increased the Chippenham lead.

A further penalty after 68 minutes took the game out of Buzzards’ reach.

The scoring was completed in the last minute when the home side won a line out ten metres from the line, secured the ball for No 8 Bobby Lyons to exploit a gaping hole in the visitor’s defence to score a third try.

The conversion was missed leaving Chippenham to run out winners by 28-10.