1st XV v Stoke and 3rd XV v Moreton Marauders
Midland Semi Final
Old Laurentians 12
The scoreline does not reflect the game, which was by some way OL’s best performance of the season. OLs started the game as if they were playing against a team that had won all their 15 League games by an average score of 50-6, that were 15 points ahead of the 2nd team or even 31 points ahead of the 3rd team in their league, which of course is all true.
So Stoke were allowed to start the game as they have probably started all their games this season, moving the ball at pace and looking very confident and dangerous, and for the first 15 minutes, OLs were letting them get on with it, unable to kick or run the ball out of defence and conceding a converted try after just 3 minutes, followed by a penalty after 15 minutes to be 10-0 down.
The Stoke crowd were noisy and excitable just like every Saturday, no doubt, and expecting the normal drubbing of the opposition!
However, on the 20 minute mark, Simon Bayliss made a break down the right wing from just inside the OL’s half, slipped the ball to Ben Anderson and then re- gathered to score under the posts, converted by Bean to make the score 10-7. All of a sudden OLs realised that maybe Stoke are not as invincible as they thought and spent the next 20 minutes dominating both territory and possession, briefly interrupted by a Stoke penalty, to go in at half time 13 -7 down.
So the 2nd half starts, the crowd expect Stoke to re-gain their momentum, but no way is this the case. OLs take the initiative and take the game to Stoke again and suddenly OLs are charging down Stoke kicks out of defence.
On the 3rd charge down after 45 minutes by Jon Bean, Troy Owen gathered the ball and scored in the corner.
The conversion was missed to make it 13-12, but OLs continued to press, missing a couple of long range penalties.
At this stage it is all OLs, that is until after 60 minutess, when the Stoke number 8, Grimshaw, picked up the ball about 40 yards out, beat off about 3 tackles and scored in the corner, and the fly half makes an excellent conversion from wide out. 20-12.
This would have knocked the stuffing out of most sides, but OLs continued to take the game to Stoke, missing a penalty that would have reflected the closeness of the game.
However in the end, it was not to be, maybe OLs should have made more of their chances, but in terms of effort by all 15 players, the team could not have given any more.
The back row were outstanding, with Eborall picking the ball up and running at the opposition at every opportunity, and James Orbinson having his best ever game for OLs. Just a pity there weren’t more visiting supporters there to witness what a great performance the team put in!
Despite the disappointment at the final outcome, OLs can use this fine showing as a springboard for the rest of the season as they mount a final push for promotion back to Midlands 1 and the chance to meet Stoke again.
Warwickshire League 3
Old Laurentian 3rd XV 20
Moreton Marauders 15
OLs 3rds began this match with early pressure leading to a Kev White penalty; and followed this up when winger Stuart Page took the ball out wide and avoided three challenges before diving in at the corner to open up an 8-0 lead.
OLs then seemed to take their foot off the gas and allowed the visitors a converted try to turn around with a slender 8-7 lead.
Moreton began the second half in much brighter fashion and added a penalty and unconverted try to take a 15-8 lead. This was the signal to bring skipper Tim Chambers off the bench to lead an OLs revival.
The pressure on Moreton eventually told when Ben Roach broke free to go over, followed shortly by an excellent passing move resulting in Paul Lewis finding the line, the latter converted by Kev White. OLs were content to run down the clock to record a much needed 20-15 win.
OLs travel to Moreton for the return fixture on Saturday.