RUGBY: Round-up of the week’s games

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OLs 3rd XV, AEI Rugby, Rugby St Andrews

PICTURES by Ray Todd: OLs 3rds in action on Saturday.

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OLD LAURENTIANS

Warwickshire League 3 

Old Laurentian 3rd XV 42

Harbury 2nd XV 8 OL 3rds welcomed Harbury 2nds to Fenley Field in Warwickshire 3, with the visitors starting the stronger and dominating territory and possession for the first 15 minutes. Once OLs did manage to get hold of the ball however, it soon became a different story. A mixture of youth and experience saw OLs display some great open, running rugby and the backs scythed through the Harbury defence, almost at will. The youngsters put in some great performances, which bodes well for the club’s future as they ran in six tries to secure a 42-8 victory.

Fly half Greg Loydall led the way with two tries and all six conversion attempts with further tries by Rob Hughes, Ben Pelling, Tom Barton and Mark Eagles.

AEI (Rugby) RFC 25

Coventry Tech 2 38

Fielding a much larger squad of 19 than the previous week but in much warmer conditions, the AEI were unable to capitalise on the dominance provided by the pack and slipped to another defeat in a game which they should have won comfortably but for some poor passing which gifted the opposition 2 tries. With only 8 players from last week available for the trip to Coventry Tech, the new look backline were unable to convert the opportunities provided them by a scrum which had Coventry’s 8 backpedalling for much of the game.

A marginally backwards pass was collected by the home side after 10 minutes to enable them to open the scoring with a converted try (the relative comfort in the scoreline provided by Tech converting 4 from 6). However, AEI were able to respond almost immediately when Gareth Bott beat his man on the outside to touch down but was unable to convert to leave AEI trailing 7-5 at halftime.

This inability to at least draw level continued throughout the second half and AEI’s attempts to catch Tech were hindered by two interception tries; the first from a poor pass after a penalty 5 metres from Tech’s tryline and the second, with AEI pressing on halfway, a pass into a grateful Tech player’s hands who was trying to get back onside.

When AEI were able to string phases together and keep their passing to themselves, the backline showed what they could do with first Pieter Stander and then Erwann Mauxion crossing the Tech tryline. Injuries to centre Rob Bollen, his replacement Tom Oxberry and the inevitable shuffling of backs meant that the AEI backs were never at their sharpest and could not turn possession into points.

However AEI refused to lay down: a scintillating 60 metre run from man of the match prop Rory Macdonald and a quick tap penalty from Nathan Yeung gave some measure of comfort but it was not enough to compensate for the lost opportunity to put pressure on the leading teams for the league title.

With a home game against Coventrians on the final Saturday of March, AEI will be looking to field a much stronger team than the one that lost away before Christmas and get back to winning ways.

RUGBY St ANDREWS

Stewarts & Lloyds 38

Rugby St Andrews 14

Midlands 3 East (South)

Late withdrawals, an ever growing injury list and road closures made it an interesting afternoon for Saints.

Saints had a tour of the surrounding areas of Corby due to road closures as they travelled to play against Stewarts & Lloyds in a mid table match of little significance to the promotion and relegation battles elsewhere. Saints were showing a number of changes and fell behind to a S&L penalty after seven minutes. Despite playing uphill and into the sun Saints soon got into their stride, George Headley making his first league start at fly-half dummied the pass and breezed through a hole in the home defence before feeding Simon Kilborn who crossed for a try converted by Ryan Taylor after 12 minutes. S&L responded and a quick tap penalty caught Saints off guard and a converted try was scored to give the advantage back to the home side after 29 minutes. The lead didn’t last long as Ryan Taylor made a break down the blindside and fed Tom White who used his pace to beat the defence and cross for a try which was converted by Ryan Taylor. S&L used the advantage of slope well to keep Saints pinned in their own half, they opted to kick a penalty to the corner hoping their impressive line out would secure ball, Saints however stole possession and were able to clear their lines. S&L did however manage to retake the lead just before half time with a second converted try to give them a 17-14 advantage.

After an extended half time break to allow the referee time to have some treatment and Saints to make changes after scrum half James Ellerington picked up injury the game restarted. Saints hoped to use the slope to their advantage and keep their hosts pinned into the own half, however their kicks often went astray, either straight down the throat of an S&L player or directly into touch. Saints then had to contend with a head injury to replacement scrum half Dave Rudd which meant another reshuffle as Saints only had forwards remaining the bench. The injury meant Saints had used three scrum halves in the space of seven minutes and paired the Headley brothers up at half back. S&L used their strong runners to good effect and crossed for another converted try after 54 minutes to give them some breathing space. Saints kept plugging away and with ten minutes remaining drove repeatedly at the S&L line with prop Karl Chaplow held up under the posts giving Saints and ideal attacking platform from the resulting scrum. The pack had worked well all afternoon in the tight but the inevitable happened and S&L won the ball against the head and with Saints packing all the backs on one side S&L managed to break clear and the ball was moved to the winger who just beat the covering Saints defence to cross in the corner for a try which was well converted from the touchline. This proved to be the decisive turning point in the game and Saints couldn’t get back into the match which finished with S&L crossing for a fifth converted try in the final minutes to earn a deserved victory.

Saints entertain Bedford Swifts this weekend as they now look to next season.