For the second week in succession, Leighton Buzzard conceded 50 points as they slumped to defeat to Newbury Blues.
With injury problems mounting up, Leighton have now used 40 players this season, but the 50-5 thumping was a disappointing display from a team that only two weeks earlier had pushed the league leaders close.
The game had started promisingly for the Buzzards. Having won the toss and chosen to play down hill but into the wind, they secured possession from the kick off. Retaining and recycling the ball through many phases they dominated the early minutes without threatening to breach the Newbury defence.
It took five minutes for Newbury to gain possession but, from this first chance, scored a breakaway try under the posts for a seven point lead.
Leighton regrouped and with the pack scrumaging well, Buzzards were dominating possession but lacked a cutting edge and Newbury’s midfield defence remained resolute. However from one Buzzard attack the ball fell loose for Newbury to kick ahead to score a second, unconverted try (12-0) after 24 minutes. Newbury were to score a third try after 31 minutes – again in very similar circumstances – securing the ball from a Buzzard attack to break from their own 22. Newbury’s clinical finishing had given the visitors a 17 point lead that neither reflected the possession nor territory during the first half-hour.
Skipper Euan Irwin gave Leighton a glimpse of hope just before half time – tapping a quick penalty to crash over but, with the attempted conversion missed, the score at the break was 17-5.
Buzzards now had the benefit of the slight wind and started the second half with renewed optimism. However this was short-lived as a further turnover led to Newbury’s fourth try five minutes into the half to make it 24-5.
Newbury’s big but mobile pack were now increasing the pressure both in open play and dominating the scrum where earlier Leighton had been in control. Additionally with extra possession the visiting backs showed genuine pace out wide and their back three were a constant threat all game.
The Buzzard defence held until 19 minutes when Newbury scored their fifth try with the defence breached Buzzards conceded three further tries between the 22nd and 33rd minutes to take the score to 50-5.
Staring at the potential of being overrun in the remaining minutes Buzzards showed some defensive spirit with flanker Ryan Fraser making try- saving tackles to keep the final score to 50-5.
Buzzards have a week off before a difficult trip to Swindon and must hope that a number of their injured first team players are fit to return. Buzzards remain ninth in the league but will need to improve on this performance if they are not to slip further.