24-22 victory over Matlock
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 1 East
Old Laurentians 24
Report by Bill Wallis
Buoyed by a good win last time out, and well aware of OL’s dismal playing record so far, Matlock probably expected to come away from Fenley Field with a comfortable win. But they were stopped in their tracks by a spirited and defiant performance from the home side, whose rebuilding process is slowly gathering momentum and who claimed their first win of the season
OLs win was built on a strong start, dominating possession and territory for most of the first 40. But Matlock hit back strongly to go ahead for the first time deep into the second half and it took a late try by Paul Lewis to level the scores again before a nerveless conversion by Reiss Boon secured the win points.
After skipper Olly Cowley’s return to action last time out, this game saw hooker Dom Hammond make his first seasonal appearance along with Grant Inch at fly half and wing Jody Roderick. Marc Eagles and Ben Scott were reunited at centre, stiffening midfield in both attack and defence.
Eagles opened the scoring after 7 minutes, weaving his way over for a fine try. OLs stayed on the offensive and Mark Todd registered OLs second try after a fine take by Robin Corrigan at a close in lineout. Reiss Boon added the goal points to both for a 14-0 lead.
Matlock fought their way back into the game and went over from a lineout for a converted try from their first real scoring opportunity after 26 minutes. This was followed 8 minutes later by a well taken try after a scrum deep in OL’s 22 but the conversion missed and OLs took a 14-12 lead into the break.
Boon extended OL’s lead to 17-12 with a penalty early in the second half but Matlock drew level with a try from their flanker after 23 minutes of the second half. The visitors then took the lead for the only time in the game when they drove a 5 metre scrum back over OL’s line to touch down with 35 minutes gone.
Their advantage lasted just four minutes before Inch placed a finely struck penalty into the corner and from the lineout OL’s pack drove for the line for Lewis to claim the vital try, Boon coolly potting the conversion that won the game.
Seven minutes of added time followed and Matlock threw everything at OLs in a last attempt to claim the win points, but met a determined and resolute defensive effort, typified by a superb try saving tackle and turn over by Ben Scott.
All fifteen players plus replacements played a full part in a win that went OL’s way because they put in a great effort for the whole 80 minutes and only once, and briefly, relinquished the lead.
This team is growing in strength and spirit, having come through adversity of massive proportions to produce a performance of this nature. With more reinforcements on the horizon, they can now begin to look forward to the remainder of the season with increasing confidence.
Next up is a trip to Newark this Saturday, another side languishing near the foot of the league table and also with just one win to their name. A repeat of this performance will give OLs a decent chance of coming away with points from the Nottinghamshire club.