Leaders OLs 2nds win again and open ten-point lead at top
Midlands 2 West (South)
Earlsdon 26 - Old Laurentians 28
Report by Bill Wallis
It was never going to be a straightforward task for OLs to get back on track after the previous week’s upset as Earlsdon are always a tough side and their Mitchell Avenue ground has been a graveyard for OLs’ ambitions in the past. But they came away with the win, and a try bonus point, after a fluctuating game in which the lead changed hands several times before OLs clinched it in the final minutes.
Catching the eye throughout were the two Colts players in OLs’ line-up, Dan Price at fly half and Harry Spears at full back. Between them the pair contributed 18 points to their team’s score, a try apiece and four conversions by Price.
Earlsdon were first to score after an innocuous looking attack produced a try when their left wing shrugged off an attempted tackle to score. Five minutes later a missed touchfinder was run back by Earlsdon and their powerful outside centre D’Arcy burst through some flimsy tackling to touch down, the conversion giving the home team a 12-0 lead.
OLs belatedly began to get their game together and hit back when Spears outpaced the defence to gather a well-directed kick infield by Jordan Bunn and go over under the sticks, Price converting to reduce the deficit to 7-12.
Chris le Poidevin and Dom Hammond ran strongly to set up an attacking position, and Earlsdon had to work hard to keep their line intact. But not for long as OLs line speed from an Earlsdon scrum resulted in an interception by Price, who left defenders floundering in his wake as he ran 50 metres to score, adding the goal points to his own try and giving OLs the lead at 14-12.
Earlsdon’s riposte was immediate after OLs were penalised on their 22 and the home scrum half Forsyth tapped the penalty to snipe over and score, converting his own try to restore his side’s lead at 14-19.
Early in the second half a beautifully timed pass by Price found le Poidevin on the charge and he made 30 metres before finding fellow prop John Barratt, who was collared by a scrambling defence just a couple of metres out.
But Earlsdon again demonstrated their finishing power when centre D’Arcy grabbed his second, again barely hindered by OLs’ defence on his way to the line, the goal points giving the home side a commanding 14-26 lead.
OLs responded strongly and were the dominant side over the last 15 minutes. A penetrating run by Spears set up the position from which Ben Roach speared through the Earlsdon defence for a fine try from 30 metres out, Price adding the goal points to narrow the margin to 21-26.
OLs pressure on the Earlsdon line drew a series of penalties and after one strong drive from a lineout had been held, the play was repeated and this time Dom Hammond added the finishing touch for a try, to tie the scores at 26-26. This left Price with a tricky conversion to win the game, but he coolly stroked it straight through the middle to secure the win.
OLs retain 2nd place with this win, on the same points total as 3rd placed Kidderminster but with more wins to their name. This Saturday, in their penultimate game, Evesham are the visitors to Fenley Field and a bonus point win is the target to maintain the promotion challenge.
Warwickshire League One
Old Laurentian 2nd XV 27 – Earlsdon 2nd XV 10
Report by Garrie Reeve
OLs welcomed Earlsdon 2nd team to Fenley Field on a gloriously sunny late March afternoon and it was
OLs who had the better of the early exchanges but could not make any inroads into the organised Earlsdon defence. With both side’s defences on top, it took well over half an hour for the deadlock to be broken when skipper Sam White kicked a penalty, unfortunately pulling a muscle in the process to be forced off for the remainder of the game.
With time running out before the break, scrum Ricky Reed carried the ball before passing to veteran centre Ben Shepherd who evaded the covering defence to score the first try of the game. Luke Billyeald kicked the conversion to take OLs in to half-time 10 – 0 up.
Early in the second half a lineout was won by the OLs forwards, giving a good platform to attack the Earlsdon line. A strong drive for the line ended with Tim Fokes getting the touch down and Luke Billyeald converting the try for 17-0.
Having switched to fly half, Reed’s experience showed as he marshalled the OLs backline and forwards alike and he set up Shepherd from a scrum, the centre cutting inside to score a fine solo try and a 22-0 lead.
OLs looked in control of the match but, a brief lapse in concentration on the hour mark let Earlsdon back into it and they exploited poor defence to score under the posts, converted for 22-7.
Now with their tails up, Earlsdon kicked a penalty with ten minutes to play, reducing OLs’ lead to twelve, but from this point on OLs’ game management nullified any threat of an Earlsdon comeback.
As the game entered the final five minutes, George Esworthy came in from his wing and cut inside the defence to score and seal the victory and the all-important league points.
With their lead at the top of Warwickshire League One now ten points and games running out, it is surely only a matter of time before OLs are confirmed league champions.