Pictures by Mike Baker
Midlands 2 East (South)
Old Laurentians 34 Pinley 7
A resurgent Pinley side made OLs work hard for what was ultimately a comfortable, bonus point win, writes Bill Wallis.
The Coventry club’s fortunes are on an upward trend in the second half of the season and they demonstrated their new found resolve in a first half performance that restricted OLs to a 13-0 lead at the break.
OLs had to make a couple of late changes to the selected 15, scrum half Sam White and lock forward Ben O’Riordan succumbing to flu. James Collins stepped in at 9 and, despite just 30 minutes of 2nd team action under his belt since injury last September, looked sharp; and Chris le Poidevin came into the second row.
Leading the way for OLs were the Brothers Bunn. Jordan of that ilk added two tries to his growing seasonal total; and Robbie was faultless off the tee, contributing 14 points to the team’s total with the boot.
Robbie Bunn kicked an early penalty and followed it up with a second after 25 minutes.
In between the two, it was Pinley who held the initiative, dominating territory and enjoying the lion’s share of possession, but they failed to find a way through an OL’s defence that was unyielding.
The home side came increasingly into the game as the half progressed and it was fly half Ben Roach who was providing the spark and lighting the fires.
After 25 minutes he scythed through the Pinley defence from 40 metres out before sending Bunn (Jordan) away for a try, Bunn (Robbie) adding the goal points for a 13-0 lead.
In the second half, OLs took control of the game as their opponents visibly faded but basic errors and wrong options held them back until a Pinley clearance kick found touch inside OL’s half.
The quick-thinking Robbie Bunn threw in to Luke Townsend who took off cross-field before linking with Jordan Bunn.
The right wing made deep inroads into the Pinley half and when he was held the ball was recycled smartly and arrived with Roach 20 metres out, the fly half carved through the defence to score and Robbie Bunn improved his try for 20-0.
Roach turned creator for the next try with another trademark break, this time finding skipper Charlie Seager on his shoulder and he galloped to the line from 25 metres out, Bunn converting for 27-0.
Ben Scott then took a ball near touch in OL’s half and cut infield, looked up to see where the opposition was thickest and headed straight for it, cutting a swathe through any number of attempted tackles before finally being held.
Quick ball was transferred to Bunn (Jordan) and he sprinted over to arrive near the posts and make the conversion for Bunn (Robbie) a formality.
Added time had reached five minutes at the end and thoughts had already turned to the bar when the Pinley pack drove over from a lineout to score a consolation try and spoil the clean defensive sheet.
Although the backs stole most of the glory, the forward eight worked hard to set up the win against a side whose strength lies largely in their big pack.
Ben Anderson and Andrew Orbinson mugged the Pinley lineout to pilfer ball on several occasions, hooker Dom Hammond continues to audition for a role in the backs and Robin Corrigan, this week on the flank, looks to be approaching his versatile best after a long injury lay-off.
No league fixture this weekend so the Six Nations takes centre stage.
Next up on March 3 is a visit to Corby to play Stewarts & Lloyds when OLs, in fourth position, will be looking to take advantage of the fact that on the same day second placed Market Harborough play third placed Luton, when something has to give!