Matchball sponsored by mini section
OLs Minis sponsored the match ball for Saturday’s match. Minis James Keay and Sam Baldwin presented the match ball to captain Paul Willis and ref Sam Kincaid.
Pictures by Ray Todd
Midlands 2 West (South)
Old Laurentians 13
Berkswell & Balsall 10
Berkswell & Balsall arrived at Fenley Field with an impressive record this season and only a single loss against their name; and they would have come as league leaders but for a 15 point deduction for a major misdemeanour last season,
But they encountered an in-form OLs side and had to be content with a losing bonus point, as they were shut out by a home team that was in no mood to allow their visitors to extend their seven game winning sequence.
The omens weren’t good for OLs with a number of changes forced upon them from the team that has been going so well of late, culminating in the withdrawal of Carl Adams, their talismanic number 8, in the pre-match warm up.
But the team that took to the field played with intensity and focus for the whole 80 minutes to deservedly claim the win points, perhaps inspired by the great play of the club’s Under 9 and Under 10 sides, who came out on top in the matches staged before kick off against the same opponents.
Bs started well and their left wing went close after a speculative kick ahead bounced badly for OL’s defence but eluded the wing as well.
Then OLs were first to score after some heavy pressure in the visitors 22 forced a penalty, which was kicked by Jon Bean for 3-0 after 15 minutes.
Minutes later, Berkswell won a penalty in OL’s half and went for the corner, clearly intent on going for a try. But Ben Anderson stole their throw cleanly in the lineout, and OLs cleared the danger.
On 24 minutes Luke Harris took a quick tap penalty just inside the home half, and quick hands sent Simon Bayliss away on the half way line. The wing went outside his man at pace and left the full back floundering en route for the line and a fine try, converted by Bean for 10-0.
OLs were now ahead on the pitch as well as the scoreboard and some lively attacking play was testing the B’s defence regularly. After one such foray, featuring Stuart Eborall, Orbinson and Harris, Bs fly-hacked the ball into touch just 10 metres out from their line.
Anderson won the lineout, the ball was moved quickly away and Iain Wallis powered his way towards the line where the defence just got to him a metre or so out. In the following phase, OLs won a penalty and Bean popped it over for 13-0 on the thirty five minute mark.
Berkswell went on to the offensive for the last few minutes of the half but were being held until OLs conceded a penalty. Bs took the option of a scrum less than ten metres out and heaved the OL’s pack over the line for Galpin to touch down. Fly half Sam Bignall converted and when the half time whistle sounded soon after, OLs were 13-7 to the good.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first, both sides testing the other’s defences but neither was giving way, until a poor clearance kick by OLs presented Bs with a chance to attack. They were held and OLs won the scrum that followed but were penalised, and Bignall kicked the three points to bring the score to 13-10.
The last thirty minutes of play were intense and tight, the battle largely being waged up front with neither backline seeing much of the ball. Bs were shading the set scrums but OLs reigned in the lineout, Anderson taking another opposition throw as they threatened inside the home 22.
Both sides had chances but neither defence was giving way as the packs scrapped furiously to try and gain the upper hand. As the final whistle went, OLs were on the attack again and had successfully held a major challenge from a fit, well organised side who had demonstrated throughout why they have been enjoying such a successful season.
Warwickshire League 1
Old Laurentians 2nds 18
Silhillians 2nds 15
In another tight game, OLs welcomed second placed Silhillians and recorded a narrow win to stretch their lead at the top of Warwickshire 1 to six points.
Tries from Ben Shepherd and Greg Loydall with two penalties and a conversion from the boot of Ben Wiles sees OLs with the highest points for (272) and the lowest points against (84) from their 8 games in the league so far.