RUGBY: Humdinger of a semi-final as Old Laurentians bow out of cup
Nuneaton Old Eds visit Fenley Field in the league on Saturday
Midlands Intermediate Cup Semi-Final
Kidderminster Carolians 25 Old Laurentians 22
In the final words of my report on OL’s thrilling league win over Kidderminster on January 5th, when previewing this cup semi-final just two weeks later, I suggested that the match was likely to be a ‘humdinger’, writes Bill Wallis.
The prediction turned out to be right on the mark when another entertaining game went right down to the wire, Kidderminster kicking a penalty to nail the win with just two minutes of normal time remaining.
With four of their regular backs not available for selection, coach Andy Milner put his faith in youth, with four of this year’s Under 17 Colts included in the squad, and that faith was justified as they each played with skill and confidence.
It didn’t start well for OLs as the home side went into a 10-0 lead inside ten minutes, counter attacking from deep with pace to go over for two early tries and leave the travelling support fearing the worst.
But those fears were mis-placed as OLs picked up the gauntlet and went on to the offensive, Greg Loydall steadying the ship with a penalty to reduce the arrears.
For the remainder of the first half, most of the play was in the home side’s half as OLs racked up the pressure and it took some sturdy defence by KCs to keep their line intact. Reward came after 30 minutes when Andy Orbinson at number 8 drove for the line from a scrum and when he was held Ash Moore was up in close support to crash over for a try. Loydall converted and the scores were now level at 10-10.
Five minutes later KCs were under more pressure on their own line and a clearance kick failed to find touch. Cameron Buxton fielded the ball and linked with Dan Price to put the full back over in the corner, the two Colts players combining sweetly for the try and a 15-10 lead that was held up to half time.
That lead was extended early in the second half with OLs again camped in KC’s half. A miscued clearance kick was charged down by Greg Loydall who did wonderfully well to pick the ball off his toes as it bounced before running in under the posts to touch down. He converted his own try for a 22-10 lead.
In the earlier game between the clubs it had been OLs who came back from behind to win the game but this time it was KCs who turned the tables. They went over for a mirror image of OLs’ second try when a clearance kick failed to find touch and they attacked down the left to score in the corner and reduce the deficit to 22-15.
KCs repeated the dose soon after to outflank OL’s defence and cross for a try half way out. The conversion kick was successful, parity was restored at 22-22 and the game was finely balanced.
Far from crumbling after these reversals OLs went back on to the offensive, spending several minutes camped on KCs’ line. Ash Moore was inches away from a try as OLs’ pack racked up the pressure and Chris le Poidevin got over the line, but the referee ruled that the ball was held up.
Loydall missed a penalty that was kickable by his standards, but he was in considerable discomfort from an earlier rib injury that soon after forced him to leave the action with 15 minutes left. Matt Barnaby had already come on for his senior debut on the wing, so Cameron Buxton re-entered the fray with Dan Price moving to fly half.
Then, with just a couple of minutes of normal time left on the clock, OLs fell offside on their 22 and KC’s fly half stepped up to go for goal with the penalty. His kick crept inside the upright and it gave his side a three-point lead that they defended well in added time, hard though OLs fought for a final breakthrough.
Another fine game between these well-matched sides with KCs earning their win with four tries to OLs’ three.
For OLs the back row of the Orbinson brothers and Seager were an all action trio, both with the hard yards they made in attack and for their defensive grit. Dom Hammond was never far off the pace that they set and with his mates in the front row ensured that plenty of good ball was won at set pieces.
Harry Spears, playing at centre in just his second start for the senior side, was very sound in defence and displayed a determined and forceful attacking approach; fellow Colt Dan Price again demonstrated his pedigree, this time at full back, and took his try well.
Despite the reversal, it was a great occasion and KCs were welcoming and generous hosts. We wish them all success in the final when they will meet Kenilworth, who came through with a good win away at Olney. It says a lot for the quality of the Midlands 2 West (South) league that the top three sides in that league filled three of the semi-final places and the top two will fight out the final.
It’s back to league action for OLs this Saturday when they entertain Nuneaton Old Edwardians at Fenley Field.