Trip to Kidderminster this weekend
Midland 2 West (South)
Old Laurentians 16
This fixture was the first Old Laurentians senior game to be played in the Midland West leagues for three seasons; that’s how long they have been playing their league rugby in the East section, writes Mick Warwick.
Their opposition was Kenilworth, who had finished third in this league last season; so OLs could expect a testing contest.
The OLs new Colts team were also on show; due to play their first game at home for a lot more than three seasons and to mark the occasion they hosted local rivals, Newbold Colts.
This game is reported below, so I won’t spoil it for you. But I can tell you that this is the first side to come across from the OLs Mini and Junior section to the senior section since the M&Js were formed; a huge occasion for all at the club.
Before the matches, the OLs were presented with the RFU Accreditation Award by Kim Challis, the Warwickshire RFU President and Matt Woolridge, the RFU Development Officer. A tremendous amount of work and effort has been completed by the players, coaches, officials and volunteers of the OLs, and they should all feel very proud of this achievement.
So the scene was set for a feast of Rugby with a large crowd, equally split between the two games. The weather was reasonable and so what could go wrong? Kenilworth had other ideas, that’s what went wrong! They won 34-16 and to be fair their second half performance ensured their success.
Early play swept from end to end with neither side really getting on top. Kenilworth did manage to keep the ball for a long period with some impressive off-loading play.
It took good OLs defence, particularly by the back row of Captain Charlie Seager and the two Orbinson brothers, Andrew and James, to halt this attack and take play back up towards the Kenilworth line.
This pressure was rewarded when Kenilworth conceded a penalty, close in. Fly half Jon Bean had no trouble converting. Kenilworth came back strongly, forcing a penalty for an offside infringement to level at 3-3 after 22 minutes.
OLs continued to apply pressure and Jon Bean calmly stroked over two more penalties to put the OLs 9-3 ahead after half an hour.
There was a general feeling that if the OLs could keep up this driving style of play it would put them in a strong position going into the second half.
Kenilworth weren’t going to be pushed aside, however and a missed OLs tackle led to them scoring their first try after 43 minutes, converted to put them 10-9 up at half time.
This was the turning point of the game. The ascendancy the OLs had shown in the first half wasn’t repeated nearly enough in the second. Kenilworth took advantage of some iffy defence to score their second converted try to lead 17-9.
OLs were giving the ball away too easily and their exit strategy just seemed to give possession back to the opposition. The OLs coaches brought on some of the bench but this didn’t prevent Kenilworth from intercepting to score another try wide out for 22-9.
This seemed to galvanise the OLs, who took the game back to Kenilworth and on the half hour, following a straight feed through the three-quarters hands, Ben Scott put his head down and forced his way over for a well taken try. Bean converted and it was 22-16.
Any ideas the OLs had of getting back into the game were quickly dashed when, a couple of minutes later, Kenilworth ran the ball from the half way line and helped by some loose defence, scored their fourth (bonus point) try.
In the last 10 minutes OLs were pressing hard, when a loose OLs pass was snapped up by the Kenilworth winger, well supported by the scrum half who ran the length of the pitch to score a final try.
Although the OLs were disappointed with this defeat, there were some good points to build on. The scrum was secure throughout with the front row of Olly Cowley, Ray Smith, John Barratt certainly holding their own. The line out of Ben Anderson, Cain Jones and Charlie Seager produced a steady source of good possession.
The replacements; Ash Moore and debutant Phil Wyman helped the cause when they were introduced.
The half-back pairing of George Esworthy and John Bean were accurate but were always under pressure from a solid Kenilworth mid-field defence. The back line of Ben Roach, Ben Scott, Luke Townsend and Zak Wright certainly has pace; and with full back, Sam White providing good support and replacement, Paul Lewis ready to add impact; this group of players will cause problems for the opposition to come.
The hard work that all the players and coaches have put in during pre-season will hold them in good stead as the season develops.
This week the OLs have an away league fixture against Kidderminster, with a chance, hopefully, to put things right.
# OLs Colts hosted Newbold Colts in an entertaining match. Both teams started strongly with neither gaining any real advantage until the Newbold centre injured his ankle which eventually resulted in him being replaced. The OLs took advantage of this change, scoring four converted tries in the first half to go 28-0 up.
The OLs further capitalised in the second half scoringsix tries, eventually winning 66-5. Newbold’s score was an unconverted try from their scrumhalf who went over from close range after a well-read interception from another Newbold centre.
OLs tries scored by Tom Boult (2), Toby Corrigan, Matthew O’Connor (3), Rafa Cruz, Harry Spears (2), and Matthew Barnaby. Flyhalf Dan Price added eight conversions.