Leighton Buzzard suffered another defeat, this time to high-flying Kettering in their latest Midlands 1 East le ague game as they went down 33-0.
However, after poor performances against Rugby and Towcestrians in the last couple of weeks, this was much more encouraging.
In particular to concede only two second-half tries playing into the wind against the league leaders illustrates their collective determination.
On a bitterly cold day with heavy rain, Buzzards kicked off with the benefit of the wind. Within the first ten minutes Buzzards had conceded two tries – both with a touch of misfortune.
Firstly, after five minutes, the Buzzard defence appeared to have a speculative grubber under control but a wicked bounce allowed the home side to ground the ball.
Four minutes later Kettering scored following a lineout with the unsighted referee missing a clear knock-on seconds earlier. With the second try converted, Kettering led 12-0.
Despite these early set-backs, Buzzards fought their way back into the game. With the wind making line-outs difficult, Leighton chose to run penalties rather than kick for touch.
The Buzzards were also keen to attempt to move the large Kettering pack around but the home side forwards were increasingly dominant in the scrum.
After 25 minutes Kettering attempted a push-over try and then a forward drive but the ball was held up over the line.
However the pressure eventually told as, when the ball was released to the backs, a clean break ended with a try under the posts. The straightforward conversion made the score 19-0.
Leighton stuck to their game and came closest to scoring after 30 minutes. Captain Jack Whitehouse’s flat pass released centre Harri Sayer, whose speed took him away from the defence.
Just as a try seemed likely, Sayer was tackled just short and he was unable to make the try scoring pass. With no further scores it remained 19-0 at half time.
Now playing into the wind, the scale of the task was clear and daunting for Leighton and their travelling support.
These fears appeared well founded as Kettering extended their lead to 26-0 with a try after just four minutes following a show of scrumming power.
However, Leighton stood firm. James Brett was box- kicking effectively and sniping around the fringe of the breakdown, and back row forwards, Adam Lackey and Dami Adebayo were prominent in loose play and defence.
Whilst Kettering added a further try midway through the half to take their lead to 33-0, Buzzards remained a threat.
Once again it was Harri Sayer who came closest to scoring with a brilliant break from his own twenty-two.
Unfortunately he was tackled just short, denying the try that Buzzards efforts deserved.
After the Christmas break, Buzzards host Nottingham-based West Bridgford for the first time on January 5, 2019.
With three home games in January and a trip to bottom side Melton Mowbray, Buzzards need to find form and success in the New Year.
However, as they are twenty points from safety it will need a significant winning run if they are they are to maintain level six rugby next season.