Action shots from OLs’ victory over Market Rasen & Louth
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midland 1 East
Old Laurentians 14
Market Rasen & Louth 10
A hard-fought but well-deserved win by OLs secured a valuable four points, made all the more so by the fact that the two teams immediately above them in the league, Matlock and Newark, both lost.
With games to come in the near future against both clubs, the next three weeks may well decide OLs’ future in this league, writes Bill Wallis.
Rasen started this game on the front foot and a threatening attack into OLs’ 22 was only stopped when Andy Coleman got across from his wing to snuff out the danger.
The lineout that followed marked a turning point as Paul Willis stole Rasen’s throw and OLs’ pack drove their opposite numbers fully 20 metres upfield. After a strong thrust by the returning Ben Shepherd in the centre, the pack took the ball on again and forced a penalty which was dropped into touch by Ben Wiles just 10 metres out from Rasen’s line. Another irresistible drive by the pack and flanker James Orbinson touched down for the try, Reiss Boon converting for a 7-0 lead with six minutes played.
With just 10 minutes gone, OLs lost their skipper and loose head prop Olly Cowley to injury and Wayne Oliver came on to replace him and play his part in a fine display by Laurentians’ pack which was the foundation of their success.
Rasen got three points back when hooker Tom Alldridge kicked a penalty after 16 minutes, narrowing OLs’ lead to 7-3 and making it clear that his team were very much in the hunt for the league points.
When Rasen did move the ball wide, OLs’ centre pairing of Ben Shepherd and Ben Wiles effectively barred their way through midfield. Nor was there a way through out wide where OLs’ back three of wings Coleman and Jordan Bunn and full back Reiss Boon were equally effective as part of a fine defensive display by the whole team.
It was Boon and Bunn who combined to create a scoring opportunity on 20 minutes, but Bunn’s chip ahead towards the Rasen line just grazed the touch line on its way through and OLs finished the first half on the attack but with the game finely poised at 7-3.
OLs started the second period in determined fashion and mounted a series of attacks on the Rasen line, to be met by equally determined defence. OLs ramped up the pressure, which eventually told when Darren Dean forced his way over for a try, converted by Boon for 14-3 after 15 minutes.
Fly-half Grant Inch set up an opportunity with a finely flighted long pass to Boon coming up at pace on the narrow side, but the fullback was just caught as he went for the corner with Jordan Bunn in support.
With the clock ticking down, Rasen mounted a series of assaults on OLs’ line, some sturdy defence required to keep them at bay and the task made more difficult when Glenn Todd was yellow carded. The visitors kept up the pressure and worked Gutteridge over for a try, converted by Alldridge to narrow OLs’ lead to 14-10.
With their supporters casting ever more anxious glances at watches, OLs dispelled any lingering doubts by taking the game back to their opponents. Ben Anderson and Darren Dean forced their way over the line for what looked like a try but which failed to find the approval of the referee and OLs played out time for the much needed win.
This Saturday OLs travel to take on Matlock, who provided OLs’ first win this season when visiting Fenley Field in October.
The match is the proverbial ‘eight-pointer’ as a win for OLs would put them just four points behind their rivals and set up an interesting climax to the season.
Team: Reiss Boon; Andy Coleman, Ben Shepherd, Ben Wiles, Jordan Bunn; Grant Inch, Richard Parker; Olly Cowley, Dom Hammond, Darren Dean; Ben Anderson, Paul Willis; Mark Todd, James Orbinson, Glenn Todd.
Replacements (all used) Wayne Oliver, Ben Scott, Charlie Seager.