Relegated Leighton Buzzard prove tougher hurdle than expected
Pictures by Ray Andrews
Midlands 1 East: Leighton Buzzard 22 Rugby Lions 21
Saturday’s trip to Leighton Buzzard proved to be a much tougher hurdle than was expected, writes Geoff Buck. Conditions were ideal for an open style of running rugby but Lions got drawn into a strongly contested encounter that they struggled to contend with.
This was Lions' penultimate away fixture against a team who already know that they face relegation from Midlands 1 East. Lions kicked off playing down a slight slope with a gentle breeze blowing across the pitch. From the start Leighton Buzzard took the game to the Lions, forcing three quick penalties. From a position in the Lions 22 they moved the ball quickly across their backs evading Lions tackling and scoring close to the corner flag. The conversion was successful.
Lions then enjoyed a period of dominance that led to a line out close to the Leighton Buzzard line. Lions moved forward with a rolling maul which was halted and from the ensuing possession Rickie Aley kicked to the opposite corner where Daniel Parrington gathered the ball unchallenged to touch the ball down. Aley was successful with the conversion. Score after ten minutes was 7-7.
The pendulum swung back in the home team’s favour and from a penalty for offside and the resulting line out the Leighton Buzzard forwards trundled over the line for their second try. The conversion failed.
The home side continued to apply the pressure but were penalised for offside. The penalty was quickly taken and ball was moved to Parrington whose 50 metre run was halted just short of the line. Lack of Lions support saw a home team penalty for not releasing. From the resulting line out Lions stole possession and moved down field allowing Alex Tansley to score under the posts for Aley to successfully convert. The Lions were ahead at half time 12-14.
With all to play for Lions kicked off looking to increase their slender lead, but unfortunately this did not prove to be the case. The game reverted to an error-strewn period of play interspersed with regular penalties, mostly against The Lions.
From a Lions penalty in their own 22 Martin Wood broke through the defence, supported by Ben Davison but yet again failed to cross the line. Another chance had gone begging. The next 20 minutes proved to be a stalemate with both teams cancelling each other out, despite coming close to scoring. Leighton Buzzard again seemed the hungrier side and they again benefited from a coherent passage of play that saw their forwards score close to the corner flag. The conversion was missed – score now 17-14 in favour of the home team.
This again galvanised the Lions. From the restart a period of concerted pressure saw the Lions use the rolling maul to allow Tansley to go over for his second try of the afternoon. Aley converted to put the Lions back in front. Further opportunities came the Lions' way but they were unable to cross the white wash. Leighton Buzzard had the last laugh and following a period of sustained forward pressure they again forced their way over to score a fourth try near the corner. Sustained close possession by the home team saw them successfully run down the clock and record a victory 22-21.
Reflecting on the defeat team manager Aggy [Dave Addleton] was puzzled how his team could create so many opportunities but fail to finish them off and score tries. Lions now have just two fixtures left. Next a tough encounter at home against local rivals Lutterworth and finally a trip to lowly Melton Mowbray.