Great rugby occasion at Fenley Field
PICTURES BY CHRIS READING
Midlands 2 West (South)
Old Laurentians 39 – Rugby St Andrews 14
Report by Bill Wallis
A stranger watching the first 50 minutes of this game would have been hard pressed to tell which side was challenging for league honours and which was struggling at the other end of the league table. St Andrews arrived with a game plan to stifle OLs’ attacking game and how well it worked, until OLs finally threw off the shackles to run in five tries in the final quarter.
In the early exchanges Saints camped in OLs’ 22 and full back Will Morgan kicked them into a 3-0 lead with a penalty after 15 minutes. OLs hit back on just their second incursion into Saints’ 22 when Dom Hammond finished a driving maul from a lineout to touch down. But typifying Saints’ spirit, Morgan shot off the line to charge down Jon Bean’s attempted conversion.
Morgan added another penalty to restore Saints’ lead before Ash Moore charged over to touch down for OLs, Bean converting to put the home side ahead by 12-6. Saints continued to pressurise OLs, the outcome was another Morgan penalty and half time was reached with OLs 12-9 to the good but far from convincing.
OLs had enjoyed plenty of possession and their pack were on top in the set scrums, regularly heaving their opponents back. But scrum half Rudd and number 8 Hull did an excellent salvage job at the base of the scrum to turn poor ball into possession they could use; and Saints’ midfield defence, supplemented by a lively back row, had smothered their opposite numbers to blunt their attacking ambitions.
Early in the second half, lock forward Tom Grimmett finished off a Saints attack to charge over in the corner and give his side the lead at 9-14 and a real upset looked to be on the cards. But that was as good as it got for them as OLs finally began to get their game together and dominate affairs.
In the space of fifteen minutes, as OLs ramped up the pressure, Ben Scott got over for two tries and Ash Moore added a second to his earlier touchdown as the home side laid siege to Saints’ line. All three tries went unconverted but OLs had stretched out to a 27-14 lead and were now in total command as Saints began to wilt under the pressure.
OLs were delighted to welcome back Glenn Todd when he came on as a replacement in the second half, the back rower’s first appearance for close on four years after he sustained a series of knee injuries that had appeared to end his playing career but returning recently to work back to fitness in the 2nd XV. He announced himself with a typically strong carry and a crunching tackle. But then, to top that, he went on to claim two tries in the space of 10 minutes, first finishing off a wave of OL attacks, then going over from a smartly executed line out ploy close in to Saints’ line, Bean converting the first.
Saints incredible efforts in the first half and early in the second eventually drained their energy as they couldn’t sustain it for the whole 80 minutes, but by the end OLs knew they had been in a game! It was part of a great rugby occasion, with a large crowd, many old friends meeting up and three games to enjoy.
The respective 2nd XVs had kicked off earlier, OLs claiming a large win, and OLs’ Colts were also in action, their 21-0 win over Kenilworth leaving them just one win away from claiming the league title in the Warwickshire Colts league; and the Under 15s travelled to Kenilworth for a semi-final game in the Warwickshire Plate, claiming their place in the final with a 33-0 win.
Old Laurentian 2nd XV 57 – Rugby St Andrews 2nd XV 7
Report by Garrie Reeve
Old Laurentians welcomed their neighbours to Fenley Field for the return fixture having won their previous encounter convincingly. OLs were able to field a strong XV with a full bench of replacements but Saints could just muster a XV with no replacements and suffered a series of injuries which depleted their numbers further and struggled to compete.
OLs took an early lead with tries by Ben Shepherd and Luke Billyeald but Saints enjoyed a profitable spell and hit back well to reduce the margin to 14-7.
But thereafter they struggled to cope with the power and pace of Shepherd and Billyeald, Shepherd going over for two more tries and Billyeald adding one. Prop forward Ray Smith completed the first half scoring and OLs were 38-7 ahead at the break, Sam White kicking four conversions.
Smith added his second early in the second half to be followed over by fellow prop Tim Fokes and replacement Kev White. At this point, with Saints now seriously depleted, the referee and both teams decided it was time to call a halt.
Credit should go to St Andrews for participating in this match with the odds stacked against them. Lesser clubs would have pulled out of the fixture and left their opponents without a game. We thank you!
This week OLs return to league action away at Sillhillians against the side that knocked them out of this season’s county shield, looking for another victory that would cement their position at the top of Warwickshire League One.