RUGBY: Old Laurentians

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Success in Clonmell semi

Saturday 12th March, 2011

Midlands 1 West

Old Laurentians 22 – Camp Hill 47

Laurentians appeared to have turned a corner from their recent run of dismal results in a first half performance that saw them leading an in form Camp Hill side by 22-13 at the break, having scored three excellent tries to one. But, as in the game three weeks earlier against Bournville, another of the league’s top sides, they failed to maintain their momentum in the second half to slip to another dispiriting loss.

Camp Hill’s Ian Briggs put over a penalty to give his side an early lead, setting up a fine performance that saw him succeed with nine from ten attempts at goal in the game. After adding a second half try, the centre finished with a personal haul of 27 points.

OLs responded quickly after nine minutes, following a good spell of pressure and the first of many excellent lineout takes by Ben O’Riordan, when Denzil Evans combined well with Iain Wallis to send OL’s centre on a mazy run through the visitors’ defence, shrugging off several attempted tackles to touch down near the posts. Evans added the goal points for a 7-3 lead, then added a penalty four minutes later to increase the margin.

After illegally preventing release of the ball after seventeen minutes, OL’s Mark Todd was sin binned and Briggs kicked the penalty to reduce the deficit. But 14 man OLs struck next when Evans put a kick of pinpoint accuracy into the corner and Simon Bayliss outstripped the covering defenders to claim the touchdown wide out. Evans’ conversion attempt missed but OL’s lead had been increased to 15-6.

OLs were playing enterprising rugby, dominating territory and possession at this time. But on 25 minutes, after winning a defensive scrum cleanly, OLs fumbled the ball and conceded a scrum to Camp Hill inside their 22, the visitors’ number 8 Rob Hill taking advantage of a short-handed blind side defence to go over for a try that was converted by Briggs to reduce the deficit to 15-13.

But OLs struck back after 30 minutes when Simon Bayliss scored a fine try after scrum half Richard Parker exploited a wide blind side to send the winger on his way, Evans converting to hoist the score to 22-13. OLs continued to pressure Camp Hill’s defence and won a penalty after a scything 40 metre break by full back John Carruthers saw the scrambling defence fall offside, but the normally reliable Evans missed the opportunity to increase OL’s lead.

Early in the second half, Briggs struck two fine penalties for Camp Hill to pull his side back to 22-19 and OLs effort was visibly fading, their play now spattered with too many errors. They were punished further, 10 minutes into the half, when full back Simon Edwards followed up a kick ahead to claim a try, the inevitable Briggs converting it to give Camp Hill the lead for the first time at 22-26.

Camp Hill took over the game for the next twenty minutes, starting with a penalty try after a spell of heavy pressure on OL’s line. The home side were doubly punished as OL’s Wallis was yellow carded for failing to roll away after a tackle that prevented a score and led to the award of the penalty try.

From the re-start, OLs went back on the attack but fumbled the ball to lose possession, Briggs taking advantage to score a try that he converted to increase his side’s lead to 22-40.

In the final ten minutes OLs lifted their game, but in attempting to force the play and score the fourth try that would have brought with it a bonus point, presented Camp Hill’s Edwards with his second try when he intercepted a pass on his own 22. With OLs fully committed to attack, the full back had nothing but 70 metres of turf between him and the line and Briggs converted his try to finish the scoring.

OLs now face three tough away fixtures as they attempt to salvage their season, starting with a trip to another top six side, Old Halesonians, on Saturday.

R

ugby & District Clonmell Cup – Semi-Final

Lutterworth 2nd XV 20 -

Old Laurentian 2nd XV 23 (after extra time)

OLs came through an epic encounter after extra time to secure their position in the final of the Clonmell Cup for the third time in four years. With Lutterworth having won two of those previous finals, victory was especially sweet.

As expected, the game was very tight and evenly matched. The opening 20 minutes were cagey, with the away team spending most of the time in Lutterworth’s 22, but unable to come away with any points until Danny Orr slotted a penalty after an infringement at a ruck. From the restart, Lutterworth regained possession, and their first extended period of pressure saw OLs conceding a penalty, easily taken by the Lutterworth kicker.

Lutterworth had started to look dangerous on the break, OLs were able to organise their defence to cope and it was the away side that scored the first try of the match. With the holders failing to defend the narrow channel, Richard Foxon saw a massive gap appear and sprinted through from 30 yards out. The conversion from out wide was well kicked by Orr, leaving OLs up by 10-3 at half time.

At the start of the second half, OL’s won a penalty that, given his form appeared kickable by Orr, but opted for a quick tap. This nearly worked, but was dealt with by Lutterworth who broke well. A momentary defensive lapse allowed Lutterworth to move the ball to the right wing for a converted score to level the match.

As the half ebbed and flowed, Andy Orbinson thought that he had scored a try, only to see it ruled as held up. From the resulting scrum, OL’s were able to exert enough pressure to win a penalty, which was kicked by Orr.

The clock ticked down and OL’s appeared to have down enough to secure a win, but an infringement on the floor saw Lutterworth convert a penalty to level the scores at 13-13 with the last kick of normal time

The tied scores saw two periods of ten minutes extra time played by some understandably weary legs. The first half was again very tight, with OL’s managing to come away with a 3 point lead from another Orr penalty.

Laurentians looked to defend the slender lead, and appeared to be able to do so, but a charged down clearance kick allowed Lutterworth to run through unopposed for a converted try, putting themselves 4 points up.

OL’s reaction to this was fantastic. Rather than allowing heads to drop or become deflated, they responded by tearing into Lutterworth, who defended well, until Orbinson picked up from the base of a scrum and powered over. This prompted jubilant celebrations from his teammates, but Orr kept his cool to add the conversion and restore the 3 point lead. The away side were able to see out a nervy final 2 minutes to proceed through to the final.

In an absorbing game of rugby, Lutterworth showed their determination to retain the trophy by putting up a tremendous fight. OL’s were able to sneak through, with Orbinson, Steve Pike and Ted Wallis showing up particularly well.

The final is likely to be played in early May against Rugby St. Andrews, who came through their semi-final the previous week against Newbold.

PICTURES BY RAY TODD