Leighton Buzzard produced one of their more disappointing performances of the season as they were frozen out by Wellingborough, going down 22-0 on Saturday.
In very cold conditions with a bitter wind frequently blowing snow across the pitch, Buzzards failed adapt to the conditions, and saw them well beaten by Wellingborough, who stuck to their straightforward, but efficient, game plan.
“It was a very disappointing display,” said Director of Rugby Dave Larham afterwards. “We got precisely from the game what we deserved; nothing.
“We can’t blame the weather, pitch, referee or any of the other environmental factors that impact on team sports; this performance lacked passion, belief and the basic game understanding and core rugby skills needed to win a game of rugby at this level.
“The result puts us back into a dogfight to maintain our place in this league and Level 6 rugby.”
In tough conditions, Leighton got the game underway but were immediately on the back foot as the home side took control of the scrums. They would be in charge for more of the day at set pieces.
After 15 minutes, Wellingborough were awarded a penalty deep in the Buzzard twenty-two. With both goal-kicking and lineouts difficult in the conditions, particularly with the Leighton lineout performing well, the home side chose to take a scrum. The decision was rewarded as the Wellingborough pack drove over for the first try to leave the home side 5-0 ahead.
Much of the first half followed a similar pattern. The home side retained possession well, dominating in the scrums.
Although the Buzzard lineout continued to function well, Leighton had limited possession which they lost too frequently in contact and through over ambitious moves.
Buzzards did think they might be about to take the lead after half-an–hour when Ben Beaumont intercepted a pass with a clear run for the line but the referee called play back for an earlier penalty.
As half-time approached, pressure from territory and possession resulted in the home side’s second try and a 10-0 half time lead.
Following a half-time”roasting” from captain Mike Lynch, the Buzzards did start the second half with more intent. Left winger Luke Stanbridge, who was to make a couple of good breaks on his return to the first team, was held up just short after only three minutes.
However, despite the first fifteen minutes of the second half being Leighton’s best period in the game, they had no points to show for it.
Slowly and, apparently, inevitably the home forwards exerted pressure and Leighton became trapped in their twenty-two.
Mid-way through the half and after a succession of penalties the Wellingborough scrum was stopped illegally and the referee gave a penalty try – 17-0.
Five minutes later, centre Euan Irwin was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.
Again the home side chose to take a scrum from the resulting penalty and, after a twenty metre drive by the home pack the ball was passed out for a try in the right-hand corner.
Buzzard number eight, Jordan Cummins, had made an excellent effort at a last-ditch tackle and appeared to have dislodged the ball, but the referee, who was well positioned, adjudged there to be downward pressure.
The remaining twelve minutes were played out without further points, leaving the final score 22-0.
Buzzards slip a place to ninth on points difference and will be confident of improvement at home to twelfth-placed Melton Mowbray next Saturday.