League victory over Stratford after heavy defeats in recent seasons
Warwickshire League 1
Stratford 2nd XV 12 Old Laurentian 2nd XV 29
OLs were once again on the road, travelling to rivals Stratford on Avon this week, who in the past couple of seasons have inflicted heavy defeats on them at their Loxley Road ground, writes David Middleton.
It was another cold damp afternoon but except for a couple of large mole hills on the touch line the pitch was in remarkably good condition, which made a pleasant change from the past couple of weeks.
OLs showed their intent from the off, working through the phases, showing excellent ball retention skills and allowing the unfamiliar half back pairing of Colonel Esworthy and Robbie Bunn to dictate.
The pressure was all from OLs in the opening 25 minutes but a very strong Stratford defence kept them at bay until, after several strong forward drives, the ball was worked out to the wing where mad Jonny Martin rounded his opposite number and showed a fine turn of pace to score in the corner, the conversion falling just short.
Stratford had struggled to get out of their own half but with half time approaching an uncharacteristic OL’s mistake was seized upon by a Stratford player who raced away from inside his own half to score under the posts, making the conversion a formality and giving his side a half time lead they hardly merited.
The talk at half time was about making sure the possession and territory that OLs were working so hard for was turned into points and the team did not disappoint.
Robbie Bunn found his kicking range to open the second half, scoring with a well struck penalty before scoring his side’s second try of the day, spotting a gap in the home defence after more excellent work from the pack to touch down by the posts and convert his own score.
OL’s third try was indeed a thing of beauty, not least the swan dive from the touch judge as he tried to negotiate the touchline mole hill much to the amusement of the travelling support.
The forwards led by Cain Jones and Paul Lewis carried strongly deep into Stratford territory from well inside OLs half, and when the backs were released fine handling saw full back Mike Walsh come into the line to round it off, Bunn adding the conversion.
OLs final try came from centre Ben Shepherd who, having had a ten-minute breather picked up the ball just inside the Stratford half and powered away from the cover to score under the posts, Bunn again adding the extras. Stratford had the final say scoring in the corner after capitalising on an OL’s mix up in defence, much to the annoyance of the men in green.
This was an excellent all-round performance against one of the strongest sides OLs play in their season with the forwards laying the foundations, dominating Stratford in every area and the back line led by the outstanding Robbie Bunn adding the gloss to a thoroughly entertaining afternoon.