Leighton Buzzard’s tough start to the season continued on Saturday as they were beaten 45-17 by West Bridgford.
After losing on opening day and a postponed game against Kettering last weekend, Buzzards made their first-ever trip to Nottingham based West Bridgford in their latest Midlands 1 East league game.
Unfortunately centre Mike Robert pulled his hamstring in the warm up, resulting in a reorganised back line with seventeen year old Ollie Gronert coming off the bench to start the game.
West Bridgford kicked off against a slight wind and quickly took a 3-0 lead after an early penalty for offside. The home side’s game plan was to run from almost any position and whilst Buzzards were defending well, they were struggling to get possession.
Almost inevitably the pressure told after nine minutes when West Bridgford crossed for their first try which, with the conversion, gave them a ten point lead.
Buzzards response was swift - with almost their first good piece of possession, centre Jack Whitehouse carved trough the defence for a brilliant individual try. James Brett converted to make the score 10-7.
Two minutes later, Leighton winger Harrison Sayer was adjudged, perhaps rather harshly, to have deliberately knocked on and was shown a yellow card.
Buzzards paid a heavy price as the home side scored two further converted tries during the ten minute period when Leighton were down to fourteen men.
Now back to full strength with fifteen players, Leighton fought back kicking a penalty to the corner. This gave Buzzards a chance to work a well-organised move from the attacking lineout allowing Andy Harris-Smith to touch down.
With the conversion missed, Leighton trailed 24-12, with just under half-an-hour played. That was to remain the score to half-time although there was time for the referee to give three further yellow cards, including two against Leighton players, in the last ten minutes of the half.
The second half started with recently-promoted West Bridgford continuing to play their expansive game.
It took the hosts only four minutes to extend their lead with a try under the posts, making the conversion a formality 31-12.
However, whilst many teams would have folded under the pressure, the Buzzard team, including four teenagers showed admirable spirit and commitment.
It was more than twenty minutes later before West Bridgford added to their score and only then when Buzzards lost the ball in their 22 as they tried to run out of defence.
The home side saved their best to last with a fine try with ten minutes to go. With both converted, the score was 45-12.
Back came Buzzards with a well-worked move putting James Pratt in the corner for Buzzards third try with five minutes left.
This gave Leighton hope of a four try bonus point but it was not to be, leaving them with nothing to show for their spirit and endeavour and a final score of 45-17, which did not reflect the competitiveness of the game.
Next week Buzzards travel to Lutterworth.