RUGBY: Old Laurentians beat Evesham to finish year third in league
Under 15s earn semi-final place with victory over Saints
File pictures by Mike Baker
Midlands West 2 (South)
Evesham 20 Old Laurentians 23
OLs had to go all the way to repel the challenge of a lively and spirited Evesham side whose performance belied their lowly league position and who shook up their visitors when scoring two tries in the first ten minutes to take an early lead, writes Bill Wallis.
But OLs fought back to ultimately claim a bonus-point win with four tries of their own an moved up a place to third in the league.
Conditions were appalling with almost incessant icy rain, and the game might not have been completed were it not for Evesham’s excellent floodlights, as play would have been well-nigh impossible later in the match without lights.
It all started well for OLs with a try on the board within two minutes of kick off, prop John Barratt getting the touch down after a mighty surge by the pack from a lineout close to Evesham’s line. But the home side’s riposte was swift and efficient as they capitalised on some sloppy play by OLs following the re-start to score a try, converted for a 7-5 lead.
Evesham continued to play on the front foot and added to their score with a try after going through the phases to create an opening, the conversion was successful, and the home side were 14-5 to the good with just ten minutes played.
OLs decided that enough was enough and started to play the game through their pack, the best option given the conditions. From a lineout on Evesham’s 22 the ball was driven unstoppably all the way to the line and Ben Anderson claimed the touch down, the lock forward’s try reducing the margin to 10-14.
The dose was repeated five minutes later when once more Evesham’s pack was shredded as OLs drove, picked and drove again and number 8 Ash Moore was the man who finished the drive with a try, OLs now back in the lead at 15-14.
Evesham went back in front with a penalty before OLs’ pack once more set up a platform with another driving maul covering metres of ground, Ben Roach broke through with a sniping run and Evesham were forced to concede a penalty that Dan Price put over to give OLs an 18-17 lead at the break.
The pendulum swung back towards Evesham early in the second half when indiscipline on OL’s part was costing too many penalties and one was in range and duly potted for the home side to go back in front by 18-20.
OLs went back on to the attack and at a scrum some 15 metres out from the Evesham line got the vital forward momentum that allowed Andy Orbinson, now on at number 8, to pick up at the base and drive over for a try and a 23-20 lead.
Evesham tried hard to get back into the game, moving the ball away from the forward battle whenever they could, but met with an OL’s defence that was not going to concede again. They did have an opportunity to level the score when once more OL’s conceded a penalty but were relieved to see it sail past the posts.
Both teams had served up an entertaining encounter despite the appalling conditions, but it was OL’s forward power that won them the game, all four tries coming from this source, their power and co-ordination as a unit mighty impressive. But the coaching team will be wanting to improve discipline and looking hard at the defensive slackness and indiscipline that coughed up two tries early in the match.
Outside the forward pack, Marc Eagles again caught the eye, this week at full back and regularly making yards as he ran kicks back. Fly half Dan Price was unlucky to be making his first start in these conditions but didn’t allow it to disturb his game, looking composed and confident throughout; and Ben Roach was always likely to make ground through midfield with his sniping runs.
After the Warwickshire Shield tie against Kenilworth on Wednesday 19th, OLs return to league action after the Christmas break when they entertain Kidderminster on January 5th.
The visitors are second in the league, on the same points as leaders Kenilworth but with a marginally inferior points difference, and comfortably disposed of OLs in the reverse encounter early in September.
But the Fenley Field side haven’t lost a game since that setback and have improved markedly along the way, so they will face Kidderminster with confidence high and thirsting for revenge!
Warwickshire U15s Cup
Rugby St Andrews 7 Old Laurentians 26
OLs overcame a spirited and determined Saints in the quarter-final of the Warwickshire Under 15 Cup, writes Matthew Pritchard.
The OL’s team fielding eight new recruits, many new to the game, started slowly. For the first 20 minutes the teams were even with OLs enjoying the greater possession, but handling errors and a mounting penalty count meant they were unable to breakdown RSA. With half time approaching OLs finally broke down the RSA defence as Ben Stitson freed Ethan Fox to go over for the first try.
The second half started much like the first. A series of penalties against OLs finally left the official with no choice but to award a penalty try to RSA. A subsequent sin binning spurred OLs into life with RSA unable to gather a high kick from Scott Price and Lewis Bull capitalised on the indecision to score his third try in only in his second game. Following a period of pressure OLs won a 5 metre line out. The subsequent catch and drive resulted in a try with James Pritchard dotting down.
The last 10 minutes was quite bizarre with OLs crossing three more times,only to have them disallowed and even resulted in another yellow card. Finally, Johnny White powered over for a deserved try and OL’s fourth. There were some great performances from Archie Wade, Henry Fox and Jack Flemming to mention a few. The whole squad deserve credit as they continue to grow and improve. It was a true team performance against an RSA team that refused to give up.
The semi-final will be against Kenilworth on March 3rd.