RUGBY: Old Laurentians top of the tree for Christmas

Action from OLs' win over Nuneaton Old Eds   (picture by Mike Baker)
Action from OLs' win over Nuneaton Old Eds (picture by Mike Baker)

Unbeaten going into second half of the campaign

Midlands 2 West (South)

Old Laurentians 34

Nuneaton Old Edwardians 10

There have been many better games seen at Fenley Field but OLs did what was needed to claim the bonus point win and preserve their position at the top of the table, writes Bill Wallis.

The final tally of six tries to one tells its own tale and OLs were rarely in trouble, but their performance was laboured at times allowing Old Eds to stay in contention up to the break, before a more convincing second half performance saw them home.

OLs started brightly, spending most of the first quarter in the opposition 22, and the pressure told when Ben O’Riordan picked up at a scrum to go over. Old Eds answered with a penalty in one their rare incursions into OLs 22 to peg the score back to 5-3.

A gusting wind was largely favouring OLs and Dan O’Brien’s kicking was pinning Old Eds back; a towering punt deep into their 22 was followed up by Grant Inch and he went over for a try, converted by O’Brien with a fine kick from the touchline to lift OLs lead to 12-3.

Just before the break, Old Eds took full advantage of a penalty lineout in OLs 22 to go over for a try, the conversion reducing OLs lead to 12-10 at half time.

OLs regained control early in the second half when Dom Hammond took the ball on from O’Riordan to go over, following a strong counter attack from an attempted clearance that missed touch.

Twenty minutes passed before OLs increased their lead when good continuity drove Old Eds deep into their 22 and Troy Owen finished off the attack with a strong run to go over under the posts, O’Brien adding the goal points for a 24-10 lead.

Jack Seager finished off more good phase play to go over after 28 minutes and Ben Scott, who showed up well after coming on as a second half replacement, ran well down the right flank to go over for the final score after more fluent handling by his side.

The gusting wind didn’t help goal kickers and probably cost OLs another 12 or 15 points that would probably have been nailed in better conditions. But the final result was a satisfactory outcome against a team who resisted strongly for the first half before succumbing to OLs greater power and teamwork in the second 40.

OLs reach the Christmas break with their unbeaten league record intact and continue to get the results despite the regular changes forced on their line up by injuries. This week Leigh Fisher came into the front row and lasted the full 80 with a typically forthright performance; and Garrie Reeve gamely stepped into the breach as a replacement prop to allow Aaron Metcalfe, playing despite a troublesome chest infection, a break for 30 minutes.

After the seasonal break, OLs travel to take on Old Coventrians on 10th January, OCs pulling off a surprise win at Spartans on Saturday to hint at a revival in their fortunes.