Buzzards season kicks off in new division at Belsize Park

Hard work in training pays off in final warm-up victory for Leighton Buzzard RFC over Fullerians

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 1:33 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 1:36 pm
Ollie Gronert

Pictures by Steve Draper

Pre-season hard work appeared to have paid off for the Buzzards, who put on a fine display to beat Watford side Fullerians 34-12 in their final warm-up game before the league season starts on Saturday, writes John McDougal.

Having been promoted at the end of the 2019/20 season, Leighton will finally make their London 1 (North) league debut away at Belsize Park.

Captain Jacob Murtagh

League rugby then returns to Wright’s Meadow on September 11 when Buzzards welcome Old Haberdashers for a 3pm kick off.

Head coach Tom Mowbray was delighted and said: “There has been a real positivity around the club with new players and juniors coming through to add to the squad, so it was encouraging to win both our warm-up games.”

New captain, Jacob Murtagh, added: “This win gives an excellent platform for next week’s league challenge.”

A combination of a sunny afternoon and a lack of rugby for 18 months brought an unusually large crowd for a pre-season friendly to Wright’s Meadow.

Euan Irwin scores Buzzards' fifth try PICTURES BY STEVE DRAPER

The home crowd were surprised to find that only five of the squad that played in the Midlands final against Malvern immediately prior to lockdown were playing.

However, many players new to the squad put in fine performances, with new no.8 Callum Strachan being particularly prominent.

Leighton played the first half up the slope and against the wind. As a result, the Buzzards found it difficult to get out of their half against a large and strong-running Fullerians side.

However, the defence was solid although the visitors took a seven-point lead after 20 minutes with a converted try.

Gradually Leighton gained more possession which they used to play a more open style, successfully moving the bigger, but tiring, Fullerians pack around.

Two fine tries followed scored by new players Tom Winch and Dan Chalmers, although a try on the stroke of half time gave the visitors a 12-10 lead.

Now playing downhill with the wind, Buzzards started the second-half with confidence, particularly as small changes in the scrum had improved the

set-piece. Five minutes into the half, veteran centre Euan Irwin scored following a break from the Buzzard half. Midway through the half, captain Jacob Murtagh scored Leighton’s fourth try, quickly followed by Euan Irwin’s second try.

With the final play of the game winger James Pratt scored a sixth Buzzard try following excellent handling in the backs.

With Ollie Taylor and Tom Winch, each converting one try, Leighton finished 34-12 winners.