PICTURES BY STEVE DRAPER
Leighton Buzzard grabbed their first win of the season and are off the mark in London 1 North following a home victory against fellow league newcomers Norwich, running out 13-7 winners with two unconverted tries and a penalty, writes Gordon Fletcher.
Norwich started out strongly, running hard at Leighton Buzzard but solid defensive work, which was to be the home team’s trademark on the day, kept the visitors from gaining any real ground.
The referee’s whistle seemed to be blowing non-stop in the first ten minutes when after three scrums and four lineouts Buzzards kicked deep into the Norwich 22 area.
Tom Winch managed to make contact with a grubber kick, picked up the bouncing ball and scored just wide of the posts to put the home team five nil up. The attempt at the conversion hit the post.
Norwich came back and the Leighton defence was tested all over the pitch and after a number of scrums, Leighton managed to force the visitors back towards the Leighton twenty two-meter line.
A knock-on by Norwich was picked up by Tom Winch, who galloped downfield to score under the posts, but the referee had blown for the knock-on and, with no advantage being played awarded a scrum to Leighton inside their own twenty-two.
The remainder of the half was fairly even with both teams attacking strongly and also having to defend hard. Leighton forced their way down the field and were awarded a penalty just before halftime, in front of the posts.
Ewan Starling stepped up and slotted the ball through the uprights to give Leighton an 8-0 lead at the change of ends.
The second half started with a number of penalties but a great run by Dan Chalmers down the wing put Leighton in a strong attacking position and Mike Robert went over to extend the home team lead to 13 - 0 with 30 minutes still to play.
Leighton captain Jacob Murtagh was then involved in a slight fracas when he tackled a Norwich forward late, the East Anglian player was not happy and lashed out. Both players were given 10 minutes to calm down once the referee had restored order.
With 12 minutes left on the clock and Norwich pressing the home team line, the visitors were awarded a penalty and chose to go for a scrum instead of taking the three points.
Quick hands and good play allowed them to score out wide. The resulting conversion made the score 13 -7.
Norwich now felt a result was in their grasp and attacked from all areas of the pitch but again the strong Leighton defence kept them out. In the last minute, pressing the Buzzards line Norwich committed an infringement which the referee awarded a penalty to the Buzzards .
Words were said by the one of the visiting players and the referee marched the attacking team twenty metres down the pitch for Leighton to take the penalty well clear of their lines.
This was the last play of the game and Leighton made sure the ball went off the pitch to claim their first win of the season. Norwich take a losing bonus point back with them to Norfolk as a reward for the journey.
This weekend, Leighton travel back into London to play second placed Eton Manor, who beat Chingford 17-10 away from home on Saturday.
Buzzard 2nds made their second trip to Milton Keynes this season to play the 2nd team but this week with a
significantly weaker squad and, despite a great performance in a very close game, lost 33-24.
With some lovely interplay between backs and forwards, this time Ollie Hagger was pulling the strings at fly-half.
Tries came from Gary Low, Dan Abbott, Ethan Hayter, Ben Silvester with a breakaway try running 40 metres to score under the posts and Jack Cullen added two conversions.