RUGBY: Old Laurentians suffering from inability to field a settled side
OLs beaten 23-5 at Spartans ahead of this weekend's visit of Barkers Butts
Midlands 2 West (South)
Spartans 23 Old Laurentians 5
Spartans ground is exposed to the elements, the afternoon was thoroughly wet, cold and miserable and OLs were forced to travel with a side once again weakened by non-availability and injury to key players, writes Bill Wallis.
Outmuscled up front by a bigger, stronger Spartans pack, OLs experienced the fundamental truth that you can’t win games without the ball.
The home side converted one of their several penalties after 23 minutes, but OLs enjoyed their best spell in the second quarter and wing Grant Inch finished off some fluid back play to score wide out and give his side a 5-3 lead.
A try for Spartans’ centre saw them lead 10-5 at half time before their pack turned the screw in the second half, to outplay their opposite numbers in most phases.
Spartans forced a series of penalties close to OLs line, opting for a scrum each time until at the fourth attempt they heaved OLs back to score an inevitable pushover try.
Just about all of the play was in OL’s half and a further penalty increased the home side’s margin to 18-5 before their final try in added time at the end of the game.
OLs back line looked threatening when they had the ball, but as the game wore on quick, clean possession was increasingly scarce, seriously limiting their attacking opportunities. O’Connor and Orbinson in the back row and hooker Hammond normally feature strongly with the ball going forward but, in this game, defence was their main priority, further reducing OLs attacking options.
Ben Varney, another of OL’s talented young players, made his 1st XV debut when coming off the bench. But he had no chance to show his paces.
At this point last season, OLs were six games into a sequence of 16 straight wins but are struggling for wins this time round, the inability to field a settled side at the root of their problems. On Saturday another stiff task awaits when the Barkers Butts side who brought that winning run to an end last season are the visitors to Fenley Field.
OLs’ 2nds welcomed Warwickshire League One newcomers Spartans to Fenley Field for their first encounter for almost ten years and drew 8-8.
In what could be a club first, OLs fielded two father-son combinations. Sam and Finn Miles playing together for the first time, joining Gary and Josh Hammond in the starting line-up.
OLs’ points came from a Luke Billyeald penalty and Ben Shepherd try, set up by Sam Miles’ 40 metre run, to lead 8-5 but Spartans levelled with a late penalty.