Leighton Buzzard’s second half revival against West Bridgford came too late as they were made to pay for a poor first half, going down 27-12.
After a disappointing first-half performance when they conceded four tries, the youthful Buzzards team fought back well in the second half. Whilst Leighton outscored their opponents after the break, the gap was too large to recover.
Immediately West Bridgford had possession in the Buzzard twenty-two and, with this first attack, crossed the line to go 7-0 ahead.
Buzzards fought their way back into the game with a good period of possession. Whilst ball retention was good they failed to threaten the visitors’ line during these early exchanges.
However it was West Bridgford who would score next – Buzzards lost their own lineout in their twenty-two and the visitors’ pack drove over to make it 12-0 after 16 minutes.
West Bridgford are known for their back play, but they also had a very effective pack that was to cause the Buzzards forwards considerable problems in the scrum. Two tries came from this power display in a spell of ten minutes – firstly with a quick tap penalty from five metres out after a scrum penalty and then a forward drive. Both conversions were missed, but the visitors led 22-0 with ten minutes of the half remaining.
Two minutes before the break, Buzzard centre Mike Robert was shown a yellow card for a late tackle.
Despite starting the second half with 14 men, Buzzards were immediately more competitive. West Bridgford remained a threat but with the benefit of the slope Leighton now had more territory and possession.
An excellent break by Buzzards man of the match, Jack Whitehouse, was stopped just short by a last-ditch tackle. The ball was quickly recycled and, as Buzzards spread the play, wide a deliberate knock on prevented the almost certain try. The referee correctly awarded a penalty try to reduce the arrears to 22-7.
It was only in the last five minutes that further tries were scored. Firstly West Bridgford touched down their fifth try to extend the lead to 27-7.
However this only spurred Buzzards into further effort, feeling with some justification that their second half performance deserved more. Centre Mike Robert found space 30 metres out and carved through for a fine individual try with the final play of the match, to make the score 27-12.