Leighton Buzzard put in one of their best performances of the season, but still tasted defeat as they lost to league leaders Paviors 41-13.
Whilst beaten, the Buzzards surprised the league leaders with their commitment in defence, an unflagging competitiveness over eighty minutes and the ability to make the most of their limited opportunities.
This was a team effort that all 17 players can be proud of. However, the team spirit was epitomised by the performance of the Harris-Smith brothers, Reece and Andy, who were rivals for the man of the match award.
Paviors kicked off with the benefit of a slight wind. In the early exchanges, Buzzards were put under pressure and an early infringement gave the home side the opportunity to kick to the corner.
The large Paviors pack drove over from the resulting line-out which, with the touchline conversion, gave them a 7-0 lead after only four minutes.
Whilst the Buzzard pack was dominant in the scrum, the home side forwards dominated possession and the Paviors fly-half controlled territory.
It was over 15 minutes before Leighton left their half, thanks to an excellent break by full-back Harri Sayer. Under pressure, the home side infringed and Ollie Taylor slotted home the penalty to make the score 7-3.
However, Paviors are a fine side and the pressure on the Buzzard defence was relentless. It took them almost half-an-hour before they scored their second try, again converted from the touchline – 14-3.
However the home side were finding the Leighton defence difficult to break down – this was emphasised by Paviors choosing to take a penalty rather than attempt for a try to make the lead 17-3.
Unfortunately Buzzards conceded a further converted try right at the end of the half to make the score 24-3 at the break.
Buzzards started the second half with a rare attack in the opposition twenty-two but a lost ball gave Paviors the opportunity to go the whole length of the pitch to score their fourth try.
A further try was scored ten minutes later to make the score 34-3. With twenty-five minutes left, many of the home supporters expected the floodgates to open.
However it was Buzzards who would fight back. Following a good attack, with James Pratt prominent, the ball was spread wide to winger Andy Harris- Smith. He made good ground and, when tackled, passed to brother Reece to dive over.
Eight minutes later, Reece returned the favour – this time the older brother made the break to pass to Andy for him to score. With both difficult conversions missed, Leighton trailed 34-13 with ten minutes left.
There remained time for Paviors to score their sixth try with the last play of the game to leave the score 41-13.
The victory took Paviors back to the top of the table and, whilst they are an excellent side, they knew they had been in a battle.
Whilst Buzzards had no league points to show for their considerable efforts, they know that if they can play with this commitment and spirit their season and results will improve. Next week they welcome Peterborough to Wright’s Meadow.