A controversial late try for Market Rase & Louth saw Leighton Buzzard narrowly beaten for the second time in a week, this time going down 22-18.
The visitors capitalised on a missed offside call from the referee to score the decisive try with five minutes to go, but only after a lengthy discussion between the man in the middle and his touch judge did he award it in Market Rasen’s favour.
The result means Leighton remain 10th in the Midland 1 East table, but the gap to the rest is now beginning to grow - eight points separate them from Market Rasen in ninth.
Having lost the toss Buzzards kicked off uphill – ball handling was difficult all afternoon due to heavy rain that was to persist throughout the match.
A successful penalty kick by Geoff Branwhite gave Leighton an early lead but the visitors equalled the score at 3-3 after eight minutes.
The next 15 minutes Leighton contributed to their ultimate defeat. Firstly, after losing their own scrum, a slip in midfield allowed Market Rasen to score a converted try to make it 10-3.
Shortly afterwards an over- ambitious Buzzard attack ended with a dropped pass on half-way – the visitors picked up the loose ball to score in the corner to go 15-3 ahead.
Leighton were struggling to gain possession - however from a penalty after 28 minutes , captain Euan Irwin made the initial break and passed to Geoff Branwhite who carved open the Market Rasen defence for Reece Harris-Smith to score in the corner. The conversion made it 15-8 at the break.
Early second half pressure told with Greg Falcon scoring Buzzards second try after only eight minutes. Geoff Branwhite’s conversion equalled the scores at 15 -15 and seven minutes later a Branwhite penalty gave Leighton a 18-15 lead.
The game was closely fought but Leighton appeared to be in the ascendancy – whilst the visitors’ backs threatened, Buzzards looked the most likely to score.
However it was with five minutes left that a series of incidents that were to change the game began. Buzzard had secured ball from the scrum in their own 22 – as the ball was about to be passed, the referee ducked out of the way and, in doing so, failed to spot the most obvious offside.
Fly half Lee Walker was caught, the turnover ball was spread wide and the visitors scored in the corner. With the speed of the movement the referee was some way from the touchdown and took considerable time and a conversation with the touch judge before awarding the try. The try was brilliantly converted -so from being in a position to clear the ball and preserve their lead Buzzards were behind 22-18.
Try as they might, Leighton could not find a way back into the game, despite Market Rasen’s desperation to give a penalty away. Whilst undoubtedly crucial 50-50 decisions went against them in the final five minutes, Buzzards should reflect that their poor first 20 minutes.