Ill-discipline would cost Leighton Buzzard dearly on Saturday as they outscored mid-table Huntingdon on tries, but came out on the wrong end of a 29-22 defeat.
After last week’s last minute heroics against Dronfield, sloppy play and costly penalties would be Leighton’s downfall as they missed out on the chance to climb the Midlands 1 East table, despite picking up a losing bonus point.
Early pressure put Buzzards in the ascendency, and a penalty gave Geoff Branwhite the opportunity to take the lead 3-0, with a straightforward penalty after only five minutes.
Huntingdon missed the chance to draw level after 12 minutes when a long range penalty drifted wide – the only kick the home team fly-half missed all afternoon.
Leighton increased the lead after 15 minutes when Euan Irwin took a quick tap and shrugging off numerous attempted tackles bulldozed his way to the line for a fine individual try. Branwhite kicked the extras as Leighton raced into a 10-0 lead.
The ten point lead lasted only three minutes as Huntingdon scored their first try under the posts making the conversion a formality. The home side then levelled the score with their first successful penalty kick after 26 minutes after Leighton were adjudged not to have released in the tackle.
Further penalties in the 30th and 35th minutes for a high tackle and not rolling away were converted to give Huntingdon a 16-10 lead.
With the last play of the half Buzzards excellent handling in the backs allowed Ollie Taylor to score in the corner. With the difficult conversion missed, Buzzards trailed 16-15 at half time.
Now with the advantage of the wind, Buzzards were confident that the smallest of deficits could be turned round. However the half could hardly have started worse – captain Irwin’s kick was charged down and in trying to make up for his error impeded a Huntingdon player. Irwin was shown a yellow card and the penalty was converted to extend the home team’s lead 19-15.
Buzzards appeared motivated by this setback and played some of their best rugby of the game in the next few minutes.
The scrum was looking solid and whilst the lineout was not functioning as well as in previous matches, pressure was being built through phases of play.
Unfortunately they were unable to add to their score and it was Huntingdon who, rather fortuitously, scored next. A loose ball was hacked through and the home side won the chase to touch down – with the successful conversion, Buzzards now trailed 26-15.
A further home team penalty, the fifth of the game extended the lead to 29-15 with 20 minutes left.
Once again, Leighton tried to lift their performance. Despite Adam Stacey being harshly yellow carded with 10 minutes left, it was the Buzzards who finished stronger.
An excellent back move had put Arran Perry almost clear and once in the Huntingdon twenty-two, the pack were putting pressure on the home side’ s forwards. Finally the line was breached with Dan Baroux scoring near the posts which with Geoff Branwhite’s conversion made the score 29-22 with two minutes left.
Almost straight from the kick off, Leighton attacked and came close to a final try that would have given them the chance to draw the game and get a four-try bonus point. Unfortunately they were held up just short so had to settle for a single losing bonus point.
Buzzards are now level on points with 11th placed side Northampton Old Scouts but remain twelfth having won fewer games.
Leighton’s next league game is in two weeks when they welcome bottom side Ilkeston to Wright’s Meadow.