RUGBY: Hard-earned league win makes it 16 in a row for Old Laurentians

OLs will be without the services of Greg Loydall for their remaining games as the Royal Navy have claimed him as they prepare for the Inter Services tournament
OLs will be without the services of Greg Loydall for their remaining games as the Royal Navy have claimed him as they prepare for the Inter Services tournament

Important points for OLs 2nds in quest for Warwickshire 1 title

Midlands West 2 (South)

Silhillians 14 - Old Laurentians 17

Report by Bill Wallis

OLs came away from this game with a hard-earned win against a resilient and competitive Silhillians side but couldn’t quite claim the essential try bonus point despite coming very close to doing so in the second half, writes Bill Wallis.

The final score suggests that OLs only scraped home, but they had the game won before Sils scored their second try in the 13th minute of time added on by the referee at the end.

It was OLs’ pack that laid the solid foundation on which this win was built, all three tries claimed by forwards, and had the edge on their opposite numbers for most of the game.

OLs started strongly and a series of drives for the line were held before prop Olly Cowley breached the defence to crash over. The conversion missed but OLs were 5-0 ahead after four minutes.

OLs dominated possession and territory, heaving the Sils’ pack backwards in every scrum, but failing to put the finishing touch to a series of attacks, too often forcing the pass and losing possession.

A beautifully judged cross-field kick by Greg Loydall found Ben Scott but the wing was just held close to the line as Sils’ defence scrambled across. Then OLs’ pack heaved their opponents back yet again as they went for a pushover try but the referee adjudged the scrum to have skewed and ordered a re-set.

As the half ran down Sils reached OLs’ 22 for the first time and made it tell, getting over for a try which was converted to give them an unlikely lead at 5-7. But OLs soon hit back when the ball was moved infield after a strong run by Jordan Bunn, prop Chris le Poidevin putting the finishing touch and Bean converting his try for a 12-7 lead at the break.

OLs picked up where they had left off as the second half got under way. Troy Owen was arrowing towards the line when he was bundled into touch by a ‘no arms’ shoulder charge. Then a long clearance kick by Sils was run back at them and their left wing saw yellow for a deliberate knock on as OLs attacked with the line in sight.

After 25 minutes of the second half, OLs finally got the reward their endeavours had earned. After Scott’s long run down the left the ball was moved infield to reach Ben Anderson, the lock crossing for OLs’ third try. The conversion missed but OLs were 17-7 ahead.

Sils enjoyed their best spell in the final quarter and it took some committed defence to keep them out. On as a replacement, Harry Spears pulled off a couple of outstanding tackles to keep his team’s line intact.

Breaking out from this spell of Sils’ pressure, OLs had two great opportunities to earn the try bonus they were seeking. Jordan Bunn was sent away down the right on a run that took him over the line, but ‘Honest Dave’ Anderson, OLs’ touch judge, spotted that he had grazed the touchline with his boot as he rounded the last defender.

Then, fielding a Sils’ clearance near half way, Greg Loydall set off at pace and was clean through and heading for the line when a Sils’ player at full stretch tapped his ankle in a brilliant piece of defence.

The game finished with Sils’ second try in that extended period of added time at the end, OLs happy with the win points but rueing the failure to net a bonus point.

With just four league games left to play, OLs stay in 2nd place, nine points behind Kenilworth who are, barring disaster, champions-elect. OLs now have a five-point lead over Kidderminster and need bonus point wins from their next 3 games to be sure of retaining 2nd spot. The 4th and final game in this sequence is against Kenilworth so it is vital that they don’t slip up before that one, and ideally need points from it, to ensure 2nd place and with it a play-off for promotion.

But OLs enter the final run in without the services of Greg Loydall, one of the mainstays in their run of 16 successive league wins. The Royal Navy have claimed Greg as they prepare for the Inter Services tournament, culminating in the Big One, Army v Navy, at Twickenham on May 4. The club wishes him good luck in his quest for a place in the Navy team for that one.

Warwickshire League 1

Silhillians 2nd XV 19 – Old Laurentians 2nd XV 22

Report by Garrie Reeve

OLs 2nd team travelled to Knowle for this league fixture against the side that knocked them out of the Warwickshire Shield at the start of the season and looking to extend the fine run of form that has seen them win their last six fixtures.

OLs started the match playing against the breeze and ran the ball as much as possible. After 10 minutes they scored their first try when Rob Stipanovic registered his first OLs’ try, crossing the try-line under the posts after being put in acres of space by fly half Dan Price.

Just after the half hour mark, 2nd team debutant Cameron Buxton added his name to the score sheet. A sustained period of pressure from Sils was withstood by the committed OLs’ defence. A speculative Sils pass was intercepted by Toby Corrigan, making his way to just inside the Sils half. Corrigan passed the ball to his fellow Colt, Buxton, who then raced the rest of the way to the try-line to score OLs’ second converted try and leave the half-time score 0 – 14.

After half time OLs, now with the wind at their backs, relaxed and took their foot off the gas thinking that the hard work had been done. They allowed Sils back into the game, conceding two tries and leaving the scores delicately poised at 12 – 14 as we entered the final quarter of the match.

OLs regained the initiative and attacked Sils as they had done previously playing the swift running game of the first half. They gained good field position in Sils’ half when a penalty was awarded which was quickly taken by captain Sam White, who fed the ball out wide to Price. The pace and finesse, which had caused the home defence problems all game, saw the fly half round the disorganised defence and score in the corner.

Then confusion in the OLs’ back line presented the home side with an attacking penalty and they took it quickly and scored between the posts to leave an easy conversion, levelling the scores at 19-19 as we entered the final five minutes.

Determined not to lose the game, OLs pushed Sils deep into their half, where they conceded a penalty. This time, with time running out, Price elected to kick the goal. Holding his nerve, he converted the kick to give OLs a three-point lead and the win.

OLs scraped home to win a tough encounter in tricky conditions and claim the important league points. Knowing they were not at their best and still winning against one of the few sides that have beaten them this season should give this side the confidence to go on and complete a worthy league title over the remaining weeks of the season.