Leighton Buzzard faced the longest journey of the season on Saturday when they took on bottom club Market Rasen & Louth, but returned with a bonus point victory.
After a postponed game against Wellingborough last Saturday, Leighton bounced back with a brilliant 43-26 win, helping them maintain their solid ninth spot in Midlands 1 East.
The victory was based on a spectacular six-try first-half performance when at times the midfield trio of Jack Whitehouse, Arran Perry and Mike Robert appeared to break the home defensive line at will.
But it was almost a wasted journey for the Buzzards. The match kicked off 15 minutes late – the referee had decided that the main pitch was unplayable due to large areas of standing water and the game was transferred to a nearby school pitch.
And with the substantial slope in their favour, Buzzards took full advantage. Early handling errors ended a couple of promising moves but it took Leighton only 10 minutes to open the scoring. A break in the backs from just inside their own half, followed by strong running and good support, gave Arran Perry the opportunity to score under the posts. Darren Braybrook converted. Straight from the kickoff Buzzards attacked from their twenty-two – with great support the ball was transferred through many hands for Darren Braybrook to score. With twelve minutes gone, Leighton were 12-0 ahead.
Six minutes later a clean break by fly-half Jack Whitehouse and good support gave Darren Braybrook his second try in the corner. His attempt to convert his own try unluckily hit the post to leave the score 17-0.
Only half-way through the half Buzzards secured the four try bonus point when Dan Baroux crashed over following a quickly taken tap penalty by James Brett, to extend the lead to 22- 0.
Despite the score, territory and possession was fairly even. However Leighton’s defence was resolute, with debutant flanker Reece Payne, who had an excellent game, particularly prominent.
The backs looked dangerous whenever they had the ball and it was little surprise when Jack Whitehouse carved open the home defence for Mike Robert to score after half an hour. Braybrook’s conversion made the score 29-0.
Market Rasen did manage to crash over from a quick penalty after 38 minutes but there remained time for Mike Robert to jink through untouched. With both these tries converted Leighton had a 36-7 half-time lead.
Now playing uphill and into a strengthening wind and, with an increasing propensity to give away penalties, Buzzards found retaining possession difficult. Nine minutes into the half the home pack drove over to cut the Buzzard lead to 36-14.
The lead was quickly extended as Market Rasen failed to claim the ball from the kickoff and second row Owen Forsyth charged over. With the straightforward Darren Braybrook conversion, the Buzzard lead was 43-14
With the elements in the home team’s favour, the Buzzards found themselves under pressure close to their line. The referee’s patience finally ran out as Leighton’s penalty count increased and captain Mike Lynch was shown a yellow card for collapsing a maul close to the line.
When a further offence occurred shortly afterwards a penalty try was awarded and Market Rasen added a further push over try with three minutes left to leave Leighton clear winners 43-26.
>>Buzzard’s Junior Academy narrowly missed out on silverware as they lost to Ampthill in the Beds Cup Final.
With several U14 players making the step up, Ampthill were strong and organised and quickly took the upper hand, scoring three unanswered tries in the first half.
Despite huge pressure the young Buzzards kept their heads and played right to the bitter end finishing runners-up.