An inspired Ryan Fraser helped Leighton Buzzard stage a dramatic late comeback to share the points with Wellingborough on Saturday.
With 15 minutes to go, the 28-28 final score looked to be a long way off, but three tries in the final quarter of an hour saw Leighton come from 15 points behind to snatch an unlikely draw.
Captain Euan Irwin Captain Euan Irwin lost the toss so Buzzards kicked off with the benefit of the slope and the light wind.
In the initial stages Leighton struggled for possession but defended well and when they finally won the ball looked dangerous.
It was little surprise when, following a quick penalty, Sam Richbell confirmed his position as this season’s leading try scorer by touching down.
Geoff Branwhite converted to give the Buzzards a 7-0 lead after only 6 minutes. Further penalties after 17 and 25 minutes allowed Branwhite to stretch the lead to 13-0.
From looking comfortable, Buzzards inexplicably lost their shape under renewed pressure from the home side. After half an hour, Wellingborough scored their first try and then right at the end of the half their fly-half carved through to score under the posts. With both tries converted Buzzards found themselves behind 13-14, in a match that only 15 minutes earlier they had been controlling
Wellingborough took confidence from gaining the lead and having the benefit of conditions and raised the speed of their game.
Ten minutes into the second half they increased their lead with a good try resulting from a turnover on half-way. Seven minutes later the home side scored their fourth (and bonus point) try breaking swiftly from inside their 22 to score an excellent counter- attacking try. With both scores converted the home team led 28-13.
With three scores needed it says much of the Buzzards commitment and spirit to fight back in such style. The scrum had been dominant in the set-piece throughout and, as Wellingborough visibly tired, the pack began to exert pressure.
With 15 minutes remaining Ryan Fraser drove over from 20 metres and only four minutes later scored his second try. Both the difficult conversions were missed to leave Buzzards 28-23 down.
Almost unbelievably, the inspirational Fraser was to cross the line again with the referee’s decision that he was held up preventing what would have been a 10 minute hat-trick. However the Buzzards would not be denied - from the resulting scrum the ball was spread wide for winger Luke Stanbridge to score in the corner to tie the scores at 28-28 and to secure a four-try bonus point.
There was still time for the home side to have two long range penalties drift wide – one following Buzzards inexplicably putting ambition above common sense in trying to run the ball out from behind their own posts.
Whilst there was a disappointment that Leighton had not secured the victory, the team should reflect that a bonus point draw was a good performance although results elsewhere meant they slipped to 10th. Next week the Buzzards travel to Lutterworth.