Leighton Buzzard produced a thrilling second half comeback to secure a well-earned 24-24 draw and a four-try bonus point against Thurrock in their latest home match in London 1 (North) league, writes John McDougal
The match started well for Buzzards – attacking straight away from the kick-off with no.8 Callum Strachan making the initial break.
Early pressure was being created with only a last-gasp tackle preventing winger Felix Fiske opening the scoring.
The scrum was looking particularly dominant and came close to scoring a push-over try before losing control at the vital moment.
It was no surprise when Leighton took the lead after thirteen minutes – a clearance kick was run back with Dan Chalmers’ clever off load giving Felix Fiske the opportunity to show his speed to score in the corner.
Ewan Starling’s attempted conversion from the touch-line hit the post – no one realised at the time how important this piece of bad luck would be.
After their hesitant start, Thurrock were now looking much more dangerous and mid-way through the half, reduced the deficit to 5-3 with a penalty. Three minutes later, they took the lead, 5-8, with an unconverted try in the corner.
Buzzards re-took the lead after 34 minutes when forward pressure told, with Ryan Eaton scoring in the corner to make the score 10-8.
However the last five minutes of the half belonged to the visitors. Showing considerable pace on the left wing to score two fine tries. Neither were converted but at half-time Thurrock led 10-18.
Again, Buzzards started the half well but were unable to add to their score as play became more attritional.
Despite pressure from the home side, it was the visitors who scored next with another penalty leaving Buzzards trailing 10-21 with only twenty minutes left.
A splendid solo try from Owen Forsyth, running 40 metres to score under the posts was converted by Ewan Starling to make it 17-21.
Buzzards were now playing with added speed and confidence. Eddie Wiggins came close to scoring and, once again, control was lost when a push-over try seemed certain. Despite this pressure and, with less than ten minutes to go, Thurrock extended their lead with another penalty to give them a seven-point lead, 17-24.
However, in the denouement, it was veteran centre Jack Whitehouse who had the final say- carving through the defence to score under the posts. Ewan Starling’s conversion brought the scores level.
There were a couple of minutes left before the referee blew the final whistle to end an entertaining, well -fought and even match.
Buzzards have a week off from league action, before playing away at Amersham and Chiltern the following week.
After a slow start and conceding a very quick early try Leighton Buzzard 2nds grew into the game with Sharnbrook & Colworth putting in a dogged performance to win 32-22 over a talented team.
Man of the match Gary Low was a stalwart in defence and attack. He scored three tries, with the others from Ross Bevan, Nick Geohegan and Terry Wessels and one conversion by Jake Wheeler, who put in some great organisation for Buzzards to finish on top.
In his debut senior rugby appearance Rhys Betley was imperious in the line out collecting 100% of Buzzard ball and stealing two against the head.
Uncontested scrums due to Sharnbrook not being able to field a front row allowed the game to be played at a very quick pace.
Some crunching tackles and great ruck turnovers from second row PJ Fraser kept the pressure on.
Whilst the Leighton Buzzard RFC girls squad trained at headquarters, two of the U18 team headed off for their first competitive game at Fullerians, this in response to an 11th hour request for help in playing against Bletchley and Olney.
Emily Elding started off in the centre, linking with a pacey set of backs who scored four tries with no reply, before joining the Bletchley team and Aimee Spavins came on in the second half, making two strong runs, one nearly resulting in a try.
A great performance by both, with a promise of much more to come.