OLs win to stay in touch with top spot

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A trip to Droitwich is never an easy proposition, and OLs finally overcame tough and well organised opponents with four excellent second half tries after trailing 10-14 at the break, falling well below their normal standard of performance in the first 40.

Laurentians remain second in the league and came agonisingly close to returning to top spot, leaders Kenilworth only winning their game with a try deep into injury time at Dunlop in a 41-47 thriller.

Droitwich took the game to OLs from the first whistle, the visitors off the pace and looking lacklustre, spilling passes and falling off tackles. The home side scored after just five minutes from a five metre scrum, their number eight picking up and going over almost unhindered.

OLs responded after fifteen minutes when Dan O’Brien hoisted a massive kick downfield from deep in defence and Simon Bayliss capitalised on hesitation in the Droitwich defence to win the ball and go over under the posts, O’Brien adding the extras for 7-7. Five minutes later O’Brien added a penalty to give OLs the lead before they were caught out by a real sucker punch on the half hour.

Droitwich won a five metre scrum, called the same move and scored an almost identical try to their first, converting it for a well-deserved 14-10 lead at half time.

OLs lifted their game in the second half, looking for opportunities to spread the ball and move the big home pack about the field. Ben Wiles and Troy Owen featured in a sharp move early on and a combination of Bayliss, O’Brien and Iain Wallis almost created a score. Then a penalty from inside his own 22 by the Droitwich 10 was badly sliced. Ben Wiles took it in on OLs ten metre line and ran strongly to set up a counter attack that led to a fine try by Owen in the far corner after four minutes.

Strong thrusts by Wiles and Wallis tested the defence before a half break by the latter led to quick second phase ball and Dom Hammond sliced through a retreating defence at pace to score, O’Brien improving the try to lift the lead to 22-14.

Owen, looking dangerous every time he received the ball, came close to a score before a well-placed box kick by Richard Parker gave Bayliss the chance to show his pace and he beat the covering defence to the ball to go over for 27-17.

O’Brien popped over a penalty for 30-17, and OLs were controlling the game. Droitwich ball was turned over in OL’s half, the ball was moved quickly away from the breakdown and Ben Wiles’ pace and power took him down the far touchline for a fine score in the corner.

OLs travel to Banbury for their final league game on Saturday and must aim for a bonus point win to keep the pressure on Kenilworth, who have unexpectedly wobbled over the last two weeks and can’t afford to slip up in their last game at Bedworth with a slender one point lead.

If Kenilworth prevail, OLs are now guaranteed a home match in the promotion play-off on Saturday 4th May against the 2nd placed side in the Northern division of Midlands 2 West, which will be either Moseley Oak or Wolverhampton.