Leighton Buzzard were 15 minutes away from pulling off the shock result of the whole Midlands 1 East league season at Oundle on Saturday, but ended up on the losing end of a 27-21 scoreline.
Despite the ultimate defeat, this was Buzzard’s best performance of the season against a side that is fourth in the league and scored over fifty points against Leighton early in the season.
The performance was based on a committed defence and unbending team spirit. With the Buzzard pack under pressure from the huge Oundle pack, and the lineout misfiring, the home side had the majority of possession. However line speed in defence, numerous turnovers at the breakdown and making the most of opportunities kept Leighton in the match.
Oundle kicked off with the benefit of the wind. Despite early encouragement for Leighton with an excellent break from fullback Harri Sayer, it was Oundle who took the lead. Having kicked a penalty to the corner, the home pack drove over from the resulting lineout to give Oundle a 5-0 lead after eight minutes.
It took five minutes for Leighton to respond – after initial sniping round the fringe of the scrum from James Brett, it was Owen Forsythe who crashed over to equal the score at 5-5.
Oundle backs were looking increasing dangerous but it was through the home side’s forwards that they re-took the lead with a forward drive after twenty-seven minutes. With the successful conversion the score was now 12-5.
Seven minutes later Oundle added a penalty awarded for crossing – just as Leighton were looking to break out of their twenty-two – to extend the lead to 15-5.
Whilst there were no further scores before half-time, Buzzards finished the half on the attack as both Jack Whitehouse and then Matt Brazier were tackled short.
Now playing with the wind, Buzzards started the half in a positive mood and it took just six minutes to cut the lead. James Brett caught Oundle napping and took a quick tap penalty from 30 metres out. He was supported by wing-forward Jack Green who scored the try on his league debut to cut the score to 15-10.
Buoyed by this, Leighton attacked straight from the kick off with Eddie Wiggins prominent in the break. Whilst the attack was stopped, a penalty was conceded and, with James Brett’s successful kick, the score was now 15-13.
Midway through the half, Leighton took the lead. An Oundle dropped pass was pounced on by James Brett who kicked ahead and then adroitly re-gathered the ball to score to take Buzzards 18-15 ahead.
Within five minutes of taking the lead, a bad ligament injury to second- row Adam Lackey caused a re-organisation of the pack. The Buzzard scrum was now under intense pressure and shortly afterwards the Oundle pack drove up to the try line. As the scrum collapsed the referee awarded a penalty try, restoring the Oundle lead at 22-18.
Again Buzzards came back with a further James Brett penalty to bring them within a point at 22-21 with ten minutes remaining.
Sadly Buzzards could not add to their total and with the last play of the game, the home side’s forwards were adjudged to have driven over to leave the final score 27-21.