Derby day at Rugby St Andrews this weekend
Pictures by Mike Baker
Midlands 2 West (South)
Old Laurentians 20 – Southam 13
Report by Bill Wallis
After a bright morning turned into a cold, wet and thoroughly dismal afternoon, OLs produced a performance which matched it for long periods. Their performance wasn’t helped by injury forcing out key players Ben Anderson and Greg Loydall on the eve of the match; but on a brighter note there was the welcome return in the second half of wing Jordan Bunn, OL’s leading try scorer for several seasons past and making his first appearance this season after injury.
OLs started well enough with a try on the board after just three minutes when prop Ray Smith finished off a strong forward drive with the touchdown, Jon Bean converting for a 7-0 lead. If OLs thought this was the beginning of a try scoring extravaganza they were soon disabused of this notion by a Southam side whose big, combative pack brought them right back into the game.
First some strong carrying by their pack in OL’s 22 set up the position from which centre Hewson dropped a neatly taken goal for 7-3. The trend continued as Southam took the game to OLs and the pack again set up the position from which fly half Grimes spotted a gap and waltzed through for a try that full back Lowden converted to give his side the lead at 7-10 after 25 minutes play.
The remainder of the first half produced little by way of constructive play by either side, not helped by the conditions.
OLs started the second period with much more purpose and were soon awarded a penalty which Bean converted to level the score at 10-10. Southam’s discipline and composure were slipping and OLs forced a number of penalties, one long range effort from Bean just slipping wide of the posts before the visitors’ number 8 was yellow carded and OLs used their extra man to create more pressure.
Quick hands almost put Luke Townsend over in the corner, but the referee called the teams back for a scrum 15 metres out from the Southam line. Skipper Charlie Seager went blind from the scrum and got over the line with 19 minutes of the half gone and OLs had the lead again at 15-10.
Southam’s Lowden reduced the deficit with a penalty for 15-13 and the game was still wide open. Then Southam wing Sam Bench suffered a dislocated elbow and play was stopped while an ambulance was called and OLs’ best wishes are extended to him for a speedy recovery from a nasty injury.
After a five minute delay while the injured player was treated the game was shifted to the adjoining pitch for the remaining 15 minutes and OLs took charge, playing as positively as at any time before.
Southam possession was stolen, the ball was moved quickly away and a break by Jon Bean sliced open the defence. He found Ben Roach at his elbow and the centre finished the move with a try. Bean was taken out by a late charge after the ball had gone and the offender was despatched to the bin, perhaps a little fortunate that the card wasn’t red.
Still shaken up, Bean missed a conversion he would normally have potted and the score was lifted to 20-13. Not the most convincing win for OLs against doughty opponents whose fortunes will surely change soon, but with 3 tries to 1 it was conclusive.
It’s the derby game this weekend when OLs travel to Ashlawn Road to meet Rugby St Andrews, the first meeting between the near neighbours for some years, possibly the first in recent memory when league points have been at stake. Saints will be buoyed up after ending their winless run with a conclusive success at Old Coventrians on Saturday and will, without doubt, be up for this one. Supporters are reminded that kick offs now come forward to 2.15 for the next four months and a big crowd is expected - so make sure you get there in time for what is likely to be a close and fascinating game.
Warwickshire League 1
Southam 2nd XV 17 – Old Laurentian 2nd XV 17
Report by Garrie Reeve
OL’s 2nd team travelled to their district rivals with a vastly different team from the previous week. With both teams having beaten a Broadstreet 3rd XV recently, this promised to be a close encounter in what proved to be tricky conditions.
Southam kicked off into the wind and rain and immediately put OL’s under pressure, a penalty giving Southam the chance to kick to the corner. However, unlike previous weekends. OLs did not concede an early score and an impressive defensive effort thwarted the Southam attack.
It was OL’s who would score first when secure ball gave their backs decent field position from which they could attack. With the ball fed to the returning Marc Eagles in the centre he cut through the Southam midfield to cross into their 22. The recycled ball was then passed along the OL’s backline for winger Ryan Reynolds to score an unconverted try in the corner.
The OL’s lead was not to last long as Southam immediately came back at OLs. Some sloppy tackling in midfield gave Southam the chance to get into the OL’s 22 where they outnumbered OL’s defence to score close to the posts.
As half time approached, Southam were to score their second try. Again, the slippery conditions played their part as OLs surrendered possession inside their half. The ball was fly hacked towards the OL’s try line, Southam winning the resulting footrace to score. The conversion was despatched to leave the half time score 14 – 5.
The second half began in a similar pattern to the first half. Southam were to have more of the possession as they searched for a score to increase their lead. On 50 minutes they were rewarded for their efforts. OL’s penalised at the breakdown and Southam took the chance to add an easy 3 points.
At this point, OL’s made some changes in personnel. Playing their first games of the season. Jordan Rowbottom and Kyle Bramley, on for Nick Martin and Ryan Reynolds, were to play key roles and the introduction of Rowbottom in particular, gave the OL’s pack more of an attacking threat.
Gaining territory inside the Southam half from a strong run by Rowbottom, OL’s were rewarded with a penalty. A strongly driven line out, from the resulting kick to touch, was driven into the Southam 22. A few phases of pressure came to nothing, but with the referee playing advantage an OL’s penalty was assured. The penalty was taken quickly, and from the resultant drive, Bramley came up with the ball having scored OL’s 2ndt try. Importantly, the conversion was scored leaving OL’s only five points adrift.
Buoyed by their score, OL’s again attacked Southam looking for another score. Another catch and drive from a well won lineout saw OLs enter the Southam 22. The big OL’s pack were able to string together several phases of play, giving their backs plenty of clean ball to play with. With the ball spun out to the wing, OL’s were stopped just short of the try line. However, from the resulting ruck, Rowbottom managed to snipe his way over the line to level the scores. Agonisingly, the conversion just faded to the left of the posts to leave the score at 17-17.
The remainder of the game saw both sides push for the winning score to no avail. To their credit, the OL’s mentality was that this was a game they should have won and had it not been for a couple of lapses in concentration, victory would have been theirs. Another local derby at St Andrews approaches this weekend and a mistake-free match will surely see them victorious.
Towcestrians Colts v Old Laurentian Colts
Report by Dan Volkman
OLs’ Colts were scheduled to play Kenilworth Colts in the league, but due to the unavailability of players Kenilworth had to forfeit the match. A replacement fixture was scheduled away at Towcester where it was cold, windy and wet but the pitch was in very good shape.
OLs received the opening kick-off and playing into the wind quickly came away with a score after 5 minutes with Rafa Cruz getting the ball on the wing, outpacing the fullback around the outside and scoring near the posts. Dan Price kicked the conversion.
Ten minutes later, Sam McCosker-New scored just after a grounding by Rafa Cruz wasn’t seen by the referee. No conversion, and the score didn’t change through to half time at 12-0.
After switching ends, OLs made good use of the wind at their backs, making good tactical kicks into the opposition half that were chased down well, putting the Towcester back three under tremendous pressure. Matt O’Connor used this advantage to score two tries in the space of 5 minutes - both taken from set piece moves within the opposition 22. The first was a no. 8 pick from the back of the scrum to scrumhalf Harry Lummis, who then popped the ball back to Matt from a metre out. The second was another pick from the back of the scrum - this time Matt and Harry going on the open side when the backline faked going down the blind side, drawing the Towcester backline with them. The first try was converted, the second wasn’t and the score had lifted to 24-0.
The next try came from a lovely crossfield kick from scrumhalf Harry Lummis to winger Harry Thomas, who wrestled the ball away from the Towcester player in mid-air and dotted it down. Try unconverted.
The final try of the match was scored by U16s player and Man of the Match Jake Love, who scored in the corner just before the final whistle. The try was unconverted.
A very satisfactory outing with 6 tries scored and a defensive clean sheet. Next up, in the Warwickshire Colts league, are Old Coventrians at Fenley Field this Saturday, ko 2.15pm.