RUGBY: Away day for Old Laurentians at Market Harborough

OLs' 1sts in action last week against Pinley in the Warwickshire Shield
OLs' 1sts in action last week against Pinley in the Warwickshire Shield

Frustration for 1sts in game they could so easily have won

Midlands 2 East (South)

Action from last week's game with Pinley

Action from last week's game with Pinley

Market Harborough 32 -

Old Laurentians 24

Report by Bill Wallis

OLs slumped to a disappointing defeat in a game they could so easily have won. The scoring stats suggest that Market Harborough’s better goal kicking made the difference as the sides finished on four tries apiece, the home side converting three of their tries and kicking two penalties. But in reality it was defensive frailty in a 15 minute blitz by Harborough early in the second half, when they went over for three tries, that undid OLs.

Half time arrived with the scores level at 10-10 and OLs had scored two tries to their opponents’ one. They dominated territory and possession for most of the first 40 minutes, but failed to turn that into a match winning position. Instead, Harborough turned 10-10 into 32-10 in that second half spell and the game effectively won. OLs did fight back with two more second half tries but their efforts to overhaul the home side weren’t helped by a monsoon-like rainstorm, accompanied by a strong wind straight into their faces, that blew up half way through the second period.

After kicking an early penalty, Harborough extended their lead after 10 minutes of the first half when an OL’s attack broke down, the ball was lost and the home side’s number 12 broke away to score, the try improved for a 10-0 lead. For the rest of the half OLs were on the offensive, strong forward pressure leading to tries by Mark Todd and James Harris, the latter making a rare 1st team start in the second row and fully justifying his call up with a strong showing throughout.

A heavy rain storm just before kick off made the playing surface tricky, both sides were guilty of handling errors with the wet ball and the lineout became a bit of a lottery, neither side certain of their possession from this phase.

Harry Powell came on for his league debut for the club after an early injury to Jon Bean; and Luke Townsend also had his first league outing on the wing. But it was a seasoned campaigner, prop forward Chris le Poidevin, whose strong scrummaging had a large part to play in the upper hand gained by OLs in this phase. Far from continuing their dominance after the break, OLs collapsed in a heap as the home side started the second half with all guns blazing. OL’s defence went awol, two of Harborough’s three tries in this spell were converted and a penalty added for good measure.

OLs did get it back together for the final 20 minutes and worked hard for tries well taken by Troy Owen and Jordan Bunn, both converted by Powell. Further and prolonged pressure on the Harborough line was met with some determined defence, ultimately at the cost of a penalty. The rain and wind were at their worst at this point but OLs kicked for the corner and a lineout when opting for a scrummage just five metres out might have been a better choice. The lineout was lost, a wind assisted clearance kick took play back into OL’s half and their last chance had gone.

There is currently no 1st XV action for OLs this Saturday as they have a bye through to the next round of the Intermediate Cup and an opponent is being sought for a friendly fixture. The next league action is on Saturday 23rd September, when Oadby Wyggestonians visit Fenley Field. OLs will need to sharpen up for this game as the Leicester side are expected to be amongst the front runners in the league this season and started their campaign last Saturday with a fifty point win.

Friendly

Market Harborough 2nd XV 14 - Old Laurentian 2nd XV 14

Report by David Middleton

After last week’s emphatic win OLs travelled to Market Harborough knowing they would face a much sterner test, and when they lost both second rows to first team duty the task was made all the more difficult.

The first half belonged to OLs as they dominated all areas and starved Harborough of the ball. OLs were making good inroads into the home defence but struggled to find the killer pass or final burst of speed they needed to get over the line.

OLs first score of the game came from centre Ben Roach who touched down out wide after another period of sustained pressure. It was a just reward for the centre who looked a threat every time he had the ball, Howell landing an excellent touchline conversion.

OLs soon doubled their lead, Jordi Pocknell once again enhancing his rapidly growing reputation, touching down from a good catch and drive at the line out. Howell once again landed a peach of a kick from the touchline to send OLs in at half time with a 14-0 lead.

If the first half was OLs the second belonged to the home side as a couple of changes in personnel, most notably the new 10, made them a very different side to the first half.

OL’s defence in the main looked solid but two lapses allowed Harborough to score twice under the posts, making the kicks a formality to tie the scores at 14 apiece.

OLs created a couple of half chances but the Harborough defence remained intact and the honours were even at the final whistle.

This was a good performance against a well organised side and special mention should go to Dave Taylor and Chris Peachey, who stepped into the second row berths and put in excellent all round displays. OLs will need to find a cutting edge if they are to put away sides like Harborough but the early season signs look promising.