Back to winning ways, beating fifth placed side
Midlands One West
Old Laurentians 32
OLs returned to winning ways with their fourth win from five games in 2014 so far against a Walsall side occupying fifth place in the league, and a record of having lost only to the sides currently in the top three places, writes Bill Wallis.
OLs pack laid down the foundations for their team’s success, starting well and getting stronger as the game went on. They set the pattern by taking the first scrum against the head, repeating that three more times and exerting a level of pressure that won several free kicks at scrum time. The lineout was also a productive source for OLs, Willis and Anderson producing a regular supply of good ball. allowing OLs to dominate possession and territory for most of the game.
Dan O’Brien kicked OLs into the lead with just three minutes gone and OLs had all the early pressure, Troy Owen going close after the first of a number of surging breaks by number 8 Liam Deery. Over twenty minutes had passed before Walsall reached OLs 22 metre line when they reminded the home side of the danger they offered on the counter, strong running setting up a try for flanker Hickman, Weston adding the goal points for a 7-3 lead.
OLs response was swift and Ben Shepherd breached the Walsall line before quick hands got the ball to Owen, who ran strongly down the touchline to score and restore OLs lead at 8-7. Then, on the half hour, right wing Lee Hersey followed up a neat chip down the touchline by Jon Bean and kicked on to win the race to touch down and lift the lead to 13-7.
Again Walsall hit back when a penalty gave them a lineout in OLs 22 and a strong drive led to number 8 McGuirk touching down to reduce OLs lead to 13-12 at the break.
Now playing into the wind, OL’s forwards took over, regularly driving Walsall back and putting their side on to the front foot for the whole of the second half. After six minutes a slick midfield move between Wallis and O’Brien sent Hersey shooting through, Deery, Dom Hammond and Anderson kept the attack going and a cross field kick by O’Brien led to a lineout twelve metres from the Walsall line. After a clean catch, OLs pack drove towards the line and James Orbinson touched down, O’Brien’s fine kick adding the goal points for a 20-12 lead.
OLs continued to hound the Walsall defence, twice their forwards making 15 or 20 metres with driving mauls, but it was the visitors who scored next. As OLs pressed home an attack close to their line, Walsall’s full back Mould intercepted a pass and ran more than 80 metres to go over, Weston improving his try to narrow OLs advantage to just a point at 20-19.
But OLs went straight back on the attack and from a lineout in their own half, the Laurentian pack drove on for 30 metres. When the ball was released, strong running from Wallis and Shepherd in the centre led to Bean going over for a fine try, the bonus point and a 25-19 lead. Then, as time ran down and after a turnover set up by yet another fine Orbinson tackle, Liam Deery charged over from a lineout to claim a try that his fine performance had earned, O’Brien converted and OLs win was sealed.
This week Market Bosworth visit Fenley Field for a game that was postponed on January 4. The re-arranged game on February 1 had to be abandoned because of what seemed like a serious injury to a Bosworth player from which, happily, he recovered quickly. If OLs can maintain the intensity and commitment displayed against Walsall, they look to be favourites to claim the win points.