RUGBY: Bonus-point win for Old Laurentians with hat-trick for Townsend
Southam the visitors to Fenley Field this weekend
Midlands 2 West (South)
Old Laurentians 34 Old Coventrians 15
OLs had to overcome a strong challenge from a committed and lively OC’s side before finally clinching this win, the try bonus point not achieved until the final play of the game, writes Bill Wallis.
A major contribution came from left wing Luke Townsend, whose pace was just too hot for OCs to handle as he ran in a hat-trick of tries, all coming in a 20-minute burst in the first half.
OLs kicked off but didn’t touch the ball again before re-starting the game after a shock try inside 60 seconds by the visitors.
OLs settled and within three minutes had responded with a Jon Bean penalty, beautifully struck from 45 metres out. OCs were intent on attack and spinning the ball wide at every opportunity but, after the early setback, OLs defence was secure.
With 20 minutes gone, OLs won a scrum on OC’s 10 metre line, the ball was moved quickly away and centre Ben Roach splintered the midfield defence with a slashing break, the ball was moved left and Luke Townsend left defenders struggling in his wake as he sprinted in for his first try. Bean converted and OLs were 10-5 up.
Five minutes later, Townsend was again given the yard of space that is all he needs and outstripped the defence for his second try, Bean converting for 17-5.
Bean added a penalty after 30 minutes for 20-5, and a beautifully judged kick by the fly half was tailor made for Townsend on the flank, but the ball bounced wickedly and the wing could only get one hand on it and it went forward with the line beckoning ahead of him.
OLs had gained the upper hand in the second quarter and OCs were on the back foot; but when they did reach OL’s 22 they made it tell, sending no. 8 Hudson over after a spell of strong pressure and reducing the deficit to 20-10.
As half time approached it was that man Townsend again, running in from 50 metres after Dom Hammond had taken a quick penalty in OL’s half, Bean converted and OLs went into the break with a 27-10 lead.
Far from dismayed by conceding late on in the first half, OCs came out for the second intent on reducing the deficit and gave OL’s defence a searching examination for long periods, but the home side held firm.
There was no scoring until 28 minutes in, when another spell of pressure yielded the reward that the visitors had earned when centre Lee went over for a try, 27-15.
Although OLs had built a lead that they were unlikely to relinquish in the final 10 minutes, Old Coventrians were going hard for the try that would have earned them both try bonus and losing bonus points, but with the back row of James Orbinson, Seager and Moore prominent, OL’s were determined not to concede again.
The game’s final score came in added time at the end when Greg Loydall seized on a loose pass as OCs attacked and ran 80 metres to touch down, Bean added the goal points and OCs finished pointless, a disappointing outcome for them after playing a full part in an entertaining encounter.
After their early season setbacks, OLs are now settling into a good rhythm and their defensive organisation has improved significantly from the early games. Midfield is strengthened by the return of Greg Loydall and Jon Bean is in fine kicking form, succeeding with six of his seven attempts on goal in this game.
Next up is a league game on Saturday when Southam are welcomed to Fenley Field. The sides have already met once this season when OLs came away with a 40-37 win in the Warwickshire Shield when fielding a team short of several key players.
The afternoon’s entertainment will be preceded by the annual Vice Presidents’ lunch so there should be plenty of touchline support for the home side.