Leighton Buzzard were beaten, but certainly not out-classed by league leaders Chippenham at Wrights Meadow on Saturday.
While the 34-20 scoreline depicts a comfortable win for the leaders, Leighton will come away from the game knowing they can mix it with the best the division has to offer.
Chippenham kicked off with the slope in their favour and after only two minutes Leighton were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck. Centre Sam Saunders converted the penalty kick to give his side the lead. However, only two minutes later their blind side flanker Andy Rossitor was yellow carded for overzealous play.
Despite pressure from the visitors Buzzards were making their way into the game and after fourteen minutes they took the lead. Following a scrummage close to the visitor’s line, number eight Zak Tift released scrum half Charlie Esdon who exploited the blind side, scoring in the corner.
Back came Chippenham with their well drilled forwards taking control. In the twentieth minute following a driving maul tight head prop Luke Corbett broke through to restore the visitor’s lead.
Buzzards had opportunities to regain the lead from penalties awarded against Chippenham, but were unable to take advantage. After thirty three minutes they were made to pay for their profligacy when, following successive phases of play number eight Bobby Lyons finished off good work to extend the lead. Saunders kicked the conversion.
However Leighton finished the half in the ascendancy, Dan David converting a penalty to make the interval score 15-8 to the visitors.
Five minutes into the second half Chippenham increased their advantage, number eight Matt Bye bursting through Buzzards defence to score.
Ten minutes later things got worse for the home side. After a passage of play close to their line, the home side’s scrummage succumbed under pressure, the referee awarding a penalty try. Saunders’ successful conversion made the score 27–8.
Leighton’s cause was helped when the visitor’s flanker Chris Day was yellow carded, receiving ten minutes in ‘the bin’.
Buzzards now decided that attack was the better form of defence and after sixty three minutes, following an electrifying backs move, winger Geoff Branwhite scored in the corner.
Two minutes later Chippenham were reduced to thirteen players when second row Nick Doyle joined his colleague in ‘the bin’. Leighton took full advantage and following a precision cross-kick from David, the ball was brilliantly caught above his head by full back Ed Ratcliffe who rounded the defence to score close to the posts. David kicked the conversion to make the score 27–20.
Now it was the visitors who were rocking, but once their full complement was restored they managed to work their way into Leighton territory.
Despite Buzzards best efforts they were unable to improve the score line, indeed it was Chippenham had the last laugh, scrum half Lewis Surry scoring under the posts to seal the match. Saunders kicked the conversion to make the final score 34-20.