Still top, level on points with Newbold and just three games to go
Midlands 2 West (South)
Old Laurentians 32
Two minutes silence was observed before the game to honour Malcolm Hollins, a stalwart club member in the 60s and 70s who died recently, writes Mike Lewis.
In the match that followed, OLs ability to absorb changes and keep on winning was put to the test against Droitwich. Three late changes on Saturday morning meant that the OLs side that took the field showed eight changes from the previous week.
Welcome among the changes was No 8 Glenn Todd after a long absence through injury. OLs took the lead through a Jon Bean penalty following a surging drive from a line-out and despite the absence of Paul Willis the line-out proved a rich source of possession throughout from Ben O’Riordan and Cain Jones.
Droitwich responded strongly with fly-half Scott-Walker pulling the strings. Solid defence in midfield from Wallis and Owen kept them out before Scott-Walker kicked a penalty for the visitors. OLs then enjoyed a period of pressure but a missed penalty by OLs was followed by an interception on their own 22 by Droitwich and their centre scored a converted try under the posts for a 10-3 lead
The visitors looked dangerous with their driving play but OLs defence held firm and the home team began to control the ball. Two quickly taken penalties by scrum-half Parker had Droitwich back-pedalling, following which Lee Hersey went over in the corner for OLs first try to reduce the deficit to 8-10.
As they picked up the pace OLs had two tries ruled out through a foot in touch in the acts of scoring and sound scrambling defence from Droitwich saved at least two others. Droitwich should have gone further ahead but they squandered a two man overlap with the try-line begging.
Droitwich were well in the game at this stage but, as one of their players was overheard to say after the game: “We thought we would win the game but we never saw the ball in the second half.”
OLs soon took the lead when Ben O’Riordan was driven over the line for a try after a well-taken line-out. Then Hammond took the ball against the head for the fourth time for OLs to mount a series of attacks ending when Jon Bean sent in Iain Wallis for the third try. Using the wind and sun intelligently OLs went looking for the bonus-point try.
When it came it was from an interception of a rare Droitwich attack. Wallis made the early running and when the ball eventually reached Hersey the wing did well to outpace the cover to scramble over in the corner and the same player converted magnificently from the touchline.
From the kick-off OLs created another chance foiled only by a knock on. OLs superior fitness began to tell and clever play by Shepherd followed by a brilliant drive by James Orbinson allowed Todd to pick-up and score the fifth try, again converted by Hersey. There was still time for the Orbinson brothers to combine to almost set-up another try before the whistle went.
Droitwich have always proved to be a difficult side to beat and they again gave OLs some worrying moments. Great line-out work plus fine scrummaging led by Cowley, Hammond and Metcalfe provided the platform for the latest win.
The bonus-point win leaves OLs still at the top of the table with three games to go. They will have to do without Andy Orbinson, a big loss, as he leaves for the Far East shortly.
However OLs have proved this season that they have they have a squad of players that makes light of absentees. Luke Billyeald in his third appearance, Lee Hersey sixth game and Ben Wiles, when he came off the bench for his first game this season, together with forwards replacements Leigh Fisher and Paul Lewis, all performed well as they helped OLs keep their unbeaten record.
With a blank Saturday this weekend, OLs return to league action on March 21 when they will visit old rivals Leamington.