PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 2 East (South)
Old Laurentians 35 Oakham 30
An otherwise patchy display by OLs, littered with errors, was lit up by left wing Luke Townsend, who touched down for a personal haul of four tries, all of them of high quality, one spectacular, writes Bill Wallis.
On the other flank, right wing Jordan Bunn also went over for an outstanding try with a direct assist from Townsend and the pace of both was too much for a hardworking Oakham team to cope with.
The game was barely three minutes old when great approach work by Troy Owen, Dom Hammond and John Barratt set up the position from which quick hands across the back line sent Townsend on his way for his first try, converted by Sam White.
Not for the only time, OLs made a hash of Oakham’s re-start kick and the visitors mounted a series of attacks which led to a penalty, kicked to reduce the deficit to 7-3.
OLs had good attacking positions in the Oakham 22 but twice misplaced passes were intercepted allowing the visitors to clear their lines.
The second gave Oakham field position in OL’s 22 and they retained possession well before getting over the line for a try that was converted to give them the lead at 7-10.
An Oakham clearing kick from the re-start was fielded by full back Robbie Bunn who fed Townsend cutting across from his wing, he turned on the gas and found Jordan Bunn on the right.
Bunn accelerated down the touchline from half way and left the defence floundering as he crossed near the posts, White converting to restore OL’s lead at 14-10. Oakham kicked a penalty after another error by OLs in their 22 to peg the lead back to 14-13.
Five minutes before half time, OLs won a scrum on their 22, Troy Owen set off on a long arcing run and found Townsend up in support at halfway but the wing was hemmed in near touch. So Owen lifted a finely judged kick infield, Townsend took off after it and, rather than allowing the ball to bounce, he chipped it up on the volley with his boot and gathered it to scorch over under the posts for one of the best tries, from start to finish, seen at Fenley Field for some time. White converted and OLs finally put clear water between the teams at 21-13.
Oakham cashed in on more indifferent play by OLs to kick a penalty; then they attacked OL’s line after another poor clearance kick was run back and got over the line but Nick Martin did well to hold the ball up. The let off was short lived as Oakham’s scrum half sniped over the line from the following scrum, his try was converted and the visitors had taken the lead at 21-23.
OLs let slip several good attacking positions and time was slipping away when they stole an Oakham lineout just inside their half. Scrum half White put in a neat kick back towards touch where he knew Townsend would be lurking and the wing made no mistake as he sprinted through to take the kick and go over from the 22, White adding the goal points to put OLs back in front at 28-23.
OLs were now in full flow and after Townsend was just held as he went for the line, the ball was recycled through several phases and found its way left once more where the wing was not to be denied again, crossing for his fourth try, converted by White for 35-23.
This spirited and determined Oakham side countered in the final minute and got over for their third try, converted to bring up the final score and a hard-earned losing bonus point.
Townsend’s haul brought his seasonal tally to 14 tries from 13 games, overhauling Troy Owen on 11 for the season so far. OL’s free scoring wings clearly enjoy playing alongside centre Owen, who was always dangerous with ball in hand and put in another formidable defensive display; and Sam White had another good game at scrum half, regularly troubling the visitors’ defence around the fringes with his eye for a break and nailing all five conversions.
There is no league action this weekend and OLs next game is on the 27th when Stamford are the visitors.