Up to third in league after victory over Market Harborough
Midlands 2 East (South)
Old Laurentians 27
Market Harborough 22
The result of this very competitive game amply demonstrates how tight this league is, the win taking OLs up to third place, with just eight points spanning the top seven clubs; and Market Harborough, now in eighth, slipped behind the leading group following this reversal, writes Bill Wallis.
Twice the visitors led in the first half, before OLs established a narrow lead at the break. Harborough then went ahead again early in the second half before OLs finally stamped their authority on the game to establish a match winning lead before Harborough had the final say with a try at the death.
After fly half Durham had kicked the visitors into an early lead, OLs went ahead with a stunning try from centre Troy Owen. Number 8 Andy Orbinson did well to salvage slow ball at a scrum on OL’s 22 before feeding his backs.
Owen received the ball just outside the 22 and made a slashing break through midfield before the cover appeared to be getting back to him as he reached half way. But a couple of dummies later he was crossing near the posts after a run of over 60 metres for one of the best tries that will be seen at Fenley Field this season. Jon Bean converted for a 7-3 lead.
Just five minutes later Harborough’s right wing Fitzpatrick, who was a threat throughout, set up a try after brushing aside several would be tacklers as he ran a poorly directed kick back at OLs, the try was converted, Harborough were 10-7 ahead and OLs were regretting some flimsy defensive play.
Over the second quarter both sides fought hard to gain an advantage, but OLs shaded it with two Bean penalties after sustained attacking play through the phases earned its reward. Jordan Bunn came close to a try but also had to use his pace to get back and thwart Harborough after they had hacked through and crossed the OL’s line, the wing winning the race to touch down.
The break arrived with OLs 13-10 ahead but the lead was short lived, Harborough’s danger man Fitzpatrick using his strength and pace to cross for a try after four minutes of the second half, Durham adding the goal points to put his side ahead again at 17-13.
Responding strongly, OLs went close to scoring twice when, from a lineout 10 metres out from the visitors’ line, Ben Anderson made a clean catch, the pack drove for the line and James Orbinson touched down for his eighth try of the season. Bean converted and OLs were back in front at 20-17. OLs now had the upper hand and, after going through the phases to work their way upfield, quick ball from a breakdown was moved rapidly left where Ollie Jones went over. Bean converted and OLs were two scores ahead at 27-17 with 15 minutes to go.
With time running out, Harborough’s Fitzpatrick capped a fine performance with his second try to earn his side a losing bonus point.
Although only in third place, OLs have the highest win rate in the league with six from eight games, but the top two have accumulated more bonus points to stay ahead, both also having a significantly better points difference.
This Saturday OLs face another stern test when they travel to take on Oadby Wyggestonians, who currently sit just one place and one point behind OLs in the table.