Scoring chances were limited, but defensively they were rock solid
Midlands 2 East (South)
Olney 0 Old Laurentians 15
This was never going to be an easy task for OLs against a rapidly improving side who had beaten league leaders Oadby Wyggestonians and third-placed Luton in the last month, but a disciplined, well organised performance saw them through, writes Bill Wallis.
Scoring chances in heavy, wet conditions were limited but OLs finished them well when they came along and defensively they were rock solid.
OLs started with a new pairing at lock forward where James Harris and Rob Corrigan, both returning from injury, combined well; replacing Harris in the second half was Ben O’Riordan, donning a first team jersey for the first time in several years and a welcome sight.
OLs struck early on with Troy Owen’s try after just five minutes play, the centre running hard from 30 metres out for his 12th try of a fine season for one of the team’s most consistent and talented players.
Leading try scorer Luke Townsend returned after injury but was forced to leave the action with a leg injury midway through the first half, Richard Parker coming on to replace him.
OLs spent a large part of the first half in Olney territory but the home side defended doggedly and worked hard to keep OLs at bay, a greasy ball and tricky underfoot conditions also limiting scoring opportunities, and half time arrived with no addition to the 5-0 scoreline.
Olney fought their way back into the game in the second half and it was OL’s turn to defend against a wave of attacks by the home side, which they did successfully to deny their opponents any real scoring opportunities.
With a number of penalties awarded against OLs, Olney spurned a couple of kickable ones, opting for scrums instead and presumably expecting to create try scoring opportunities. But OLs eight had been secure in both scrum and lineout throughout and denied the home side any clear sights of the line.
Going into the game’s final quarter, OLs went back on to the offensive to push Olney back on to deep defence and as the pressure mounted it seemed to be just a matter of time before scores came.
It was scrum half Sam White who broke the deadlock when he spotted a gap in broken play and dummied his way over from the 22 for a fine try. His conversion kick was off target but OLs had established a clear lead that they didn’t look like relinquishing.
OLs were now well on top and another score seemed likely, coming when the ball reached hooker Dom Hammond close to touch on Olney’s 22.
Once more displaying the running skill of a centre threequarter, Hammond ran powerfully just a couple of feet in from the touchline to cross in the corner and complete the scoring.
The game finished with a flurry of OL attacks, the home side becoming increasingly stretched in defence and picking up a couple of yellow cards in the dying minutes as a consequence.
With no game this weekend, OL’s next league fixture will be at Fenley Field on February 17 when Pinley are the visitors. The Coventry club lifted themselves off the bottom of the league table with just their second win of the season last Saturday against fellow strugglers Oakham.