Great victory over Whitchurch
Midlands One West
Old Laurentians 29
Old Laurentians ended a long and disappointing sequence of reversals with this comprehensive and entertaining win over a Whitchurch side who had inflicted on OLs their heaviest defeat of the season when winning 42-10 on their ground last September, making this success all the more sweet, writes Bill Wallis.
Whitchurch had the better of the early exchanges but their best efforts foundered on some sturdy OLs defence. The first real try scoring opportunity fell to the visitors when some fluent handling sent their centre away for the line, but Greg Loydall got back to put in a fine cover tackle and forced a penalty for OLs to clear their lines.
The scoreboard remained blank until fly half Danny Nicholas put over a penalty for the visitors after 27 minutes, but this was cancelled out by a response from Dan O’Brien just four minutes later.
OLs were now stamping their authority on the game and went over for a well-executed try just five minutes later. Richard Parker snaffled a wayward Whitchurch throw at the tail of a lineout and made good ground before the ball was moved sharply away to Greg Loydall, who doubled back to the blind side, put in a precisely judged chip ahead and gathered his own kick to put Troy Owen in at the corner. A fine conversion from O’Brien lifted OLs into a 10-3 lead.
OLs were the dominant force throughout the second half, adding to their score after five minutes when Ben O’Riordan finished well after a long and penetrating run down the left by Owen set up the position. O’Brien added the goal points for a 17-3 lead.
After 25 minutes, following another of Joe Shore’s tricky runs down the right flank, the ball went through several phases before Owen went over on the left, but the referee ruled that there had been obstruction and disallowed the try. But the score that OLs had been threatening soon followed after Shore fielded a kick near the right hand touchline and threw a long pass infield to Jon Bean. The full back was caught but skilfully got the ball away to Shore looping round and OL’s wing took off through the middle to find lock forward Ben Anderson up to take his pass and sprint in from the 22. With O’Brien’s conversion OLs were 24-3 to the good.
Whitchurch took a rare opportunity to score after OLs foolishly gave the referee reason to march them back ten metres at a penalty just inside their half and Nicholas put lock forward Rees in for a try, the fly half adding the goal points. But unlike some earlier games this season, OLs never looked in danger of conceding this one and finished strongly, clinching the game and a bonus point with a try by skipper Olly Cowley, who seized on a loose ball to go over after a Whitchurch lineout near their line had been disrupted.
Amongst the many plusses for OLs was the return of flanker James Orbinson for his first game since the previous encounter with Whitchurch on September 28, when he was carried off with a serious leg injury. He had an outstanding game, combining in a very effective back row unit with Jack Seager and Liam Deery. Outside, Greg Loydall made a welcome return to the side at centre and demonstrated his class in both defence and attack. Above all, the team were committed as a whole and utterly determined not to lose the initiative once they were in front, a habit they will do well to adopt, starting with a tough encounter at Silhillians on Saturday.