Leighton Buzzard got their new year off to a winning start with a narrow 8-5 victory over Towcestrians at Wrights Meadow on Saturday.
Buzzards managed to reverse a half-time deficit against the team second in the table to secure the win in a low scoring game.
Local rivals Towcestrians had beaten Leighton earlier in the season at Towcester and were sitting second in the South West 1 East League seventeen points ahead of the home side.
The visitors started stronger forcing an early penalty just inside the Buzzard half. From the resulting lineout Towcester drove for the line with skipper Wilkinson touching for the first points of the game. The conversion went wide 0-5.
Buzzards then found their feet and the game become a midfield battle with great defence keeping the game tight.
The weather conditions also did their best to stop either team spreading the ball wide with any success, and the sides went in with Towcester 5-0 to the good at the break.
In the second half it was more of the same with Buzzards now playing some good attacking rugby but the visitors defence keeping them out.
Eventually Buzzards found half a gap and Jack Whitehouse crashed over the line to get the home team’s first points. The conversion hit the post so the teams were tied at 5-5.
Buzzards kept up the pressure and were just getting their noses in front when Leighton picked up from the base of a five metre scrum.
The ruck just in front of the posts was halted by the referee who then sent the Towcester number 8 to the bin for a rest. Leighton took the penalty kick and the lead 8-5.
The remainder of the game was played out with neither side bothering the new score board operator and so Leighton took the points with Towcester getting one bonus point.
While the 1sts were celebrating victory, the same couldn’t be said for the 2nds, who were beaten 31-0 over in Towcester.
The visitors started well against their loftier opponents. In the first 15 minutes their scrummage, well drilled by Captain Billy Nash and Jon Henkes, had the home pack on the retreat.
In the conditions it was always likely that mistakes would happen. Indeed it was from an error that Towcestrians took the lead in the fifteenth minute, centre Wilkinson scoring. Garwood added the extras.
In the twenty fourth minute Gladwin capitalised on a defensive mistake to extend the lead.
Mercifully the rain had abated, but conditions underfoot were becoming treacherous.
Despite going behind, The Buzzards were making a fist of it, with Henkes, Ed Taylor and Sean Austerberry leading from the front. Unfortunately they couldn’t quite penetrate the Towcestrian rearguard. Things got worse for the visitors when their advantage in the scrum was negated by the game going to uncontested scrums, when opposition prop Ayris having to leave the field.
Wilkinson added a third try for the home side before the break to leave the score 19-0 to the home side.
The second half mirrored the first with the home side showing why they are top of the league. Still dogged defence by the Leighton backs, led by Berry Yirrell kept the visiting attack at bay. Indeed there were periods in which The Buzzards, inspired by the outstanding Ross Bevan, threatened to penetrate the Towcestrian defence.
Halfway through the period, with the pitch now nothing better than a ‘mud bath’, the home side extended their lead, Hooker Gallagher scoring a try.
In the final minutes Towcestrians scored their final try, which was converted to make the final score 31-0.