Top-of-the-table action from Fenley Field
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 2 East (South)
Old Laurentians 18 –
Peterborough confirmed emphatically with this win why they are hot favourites to win the league and earn promotion, as the five points they took from this game extended their lead at the top to 13 points over second-placed OLs.
But the margin of victory was a little harsh on OLs who competed effectively and were well in touch at half time when the visitors were just 17-11 ahead, writes Bill Wallis.
OLs started well but with 10 minutes gone were pinned back on their own line and conceded successive penalties, Peterborough opting for scrums each time as their big pack significantly outweighed the home eight. On the third occasion the scrum went down and the inevitable penalty try resulted, converted for a 7-0 lead to the visitors.
Five minutes later, further Peterborough pressure created space on the left where their inside centre went over near the corner to increase their lead to 12-0. OLs hit back on the 20 minute mark when a series of drives on the Peterborough line were just held before the ball was released and Jon Bean sent Grant Inch on his way, the wing doing well to get over in the corner to reduce the deficit to 5-12.
OLs upped the pressure and the visitors’ defence was given a searching examination after a series of close in lineouts and scrums. A drive from James Orbinson was just held as he went to ground the ball, the subsequent scrum was won and a further attack was held but at the cost of a penalty, which Bean converted for 8-12.
OLs continued the offensive but the ball was turned over by Peterborough on their 22 and they moved the ball sharply away to their left wing, who made good ground before Jordan Bunn got back to make a fine cover tackle deep in OL’s territory. The knock-on from the tackle was missed by the referee and the ball was re-gathered by the visitors to go over in the left-hand corner, their lead increased to 8-17.
From the re-start, the Orbinson brothers combined well to rob the catcher and set up an OL’s attack. The quality of Peterborough’s defensive play was again in evidence as OLs switched the attack right then left, but they fell offside in front of the posts and Bean kicked the penalty for 11-17, the score staying that way until the break.
The second half started ominously for OLs when they allowed the Peterborough fly-half to ghost through from the 22 to score, the conversion was kicked, the deficit was 11-24 and the visitors were on top.
They added a further try after a penalty when OLs foolishly talked out of turn, and drove over from the following lineout. The conversion was added and at 11-34 the game was out of sight for the home side.
The visitors added a penalty before OLs came back strongly in the last 10 minutes and a stirring run through midfield by Charlie Seager set up a good attacking position, Ben Roach put in a well-judged kick to the right and Jordan Bunn was on to it, the wing gathering the ball go over half way out. Bean converted to reduce the deficit to 18-34.
During this spell OLs were guilty of wasting several good positions with poor judgement or indifferent execution and Peterborough showed how it should be done when breaking away in the last move of the game to score a try, goaled to bring up the final score.
OLs will need to return to winning ways – and keep up that habit – if they are to keep their hold on the play-off spot over the coming weeks, as just five points cover 2nd to 6th in this highly competitive league. Next up on Saturday is a trip to Rushden & Higham when OLs will be looking to do the double over the Northants club.