Leighton Buzzard finally got the monkey off their backs by picking up their home first win of the season on Saturday, beating Huntingdon 30-14.
In front of the biggest crowd at Wrights Meadow this season, Buzzards appear to have cast aside their poor start which saw them win just one of their opening six matches, to move up to 10th in Midlands 1 East. Captain Euan Irwin maintained his 100 per cent record with the toss and chose to play uphill in the first half. Early exchanges were tight, physical and evenly matched with both sides defences tested but remaining firm. Both sides missed difficult penalties and Huntingdon’s closest try-scoring opportunity was prevented by an excellent last-ditch tackle by Ryan Fraser. Just as it looked as if the first half might be pointless, Buzzards took the lead. Inexplicably Leighton declined a penalty opportunity in front of the posts but when a second penalty was awarded Ollie Taylor kicked the goal to take a 3-0 lead after 39 minutes. Almost straight from the restart the home forwards secured good ball, Euan Irwin made the break to pass to centre partner, Aaron Perry to run clear and score under the posts. Ollie Taylor’s successful conversion was the final play of the half leaving the score 10-0 at the break. Now playing downhill Buzzards were confident but it was Huntingdon who started the second half strongly. Spreading the ball wide for almost the first time, the away team backs showed speed to score a fine try under the posts. Shortly afterwards, Leighton lost a five-metre scrum against the head, the ball was quickly spread wide for a second score. With both tries converted, Buzzards were behind 10-14. Jolted into action by these two setbacks, the Leighton pack determinedly raised the intensity. After 21 second half minutes a well-worked move put Irwin clear only for the referee to call play back for a Buzzard penalty. Perhaps incited by this bad luck, the Buzzard pack with Ryan Fraser and Ashley Walsh to the fore, took control. Finally the pressure told as no. 8 Sam Richbell crossed for a try for the third successive game. With Ollie Taylor’s conversion the Buzzards led 17-14 with 15 minutes left. With Buzzard’s mobile pack was now in the ascendancy, Huntingdon were becoming increasingly frustrated and their indiscipline provided two long range, high pressure opportunities from penalties after 33 and 38 minutes. Taylor nervelessly converted both to put Leighton 23-14 ahead. There was still time for another break by Irwin from inside his own half, offloading just inside the Huntingdon 22 to Zak Tift who evaded the remaining defence to score Buzzard’s third try. Taylor‘s conversion took his personal tally to 15 and the final score to 30 -14. Next week Leighton travel away to Derbyshire side Ilkeston.