But tall order this weekend with trip to leaders Bedford Athletic
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 1 East
Old Laurentians 24
When Ben Wiles kicked the winning penalty late in the second half he capped a fine personal performance, strong in defence, threatening in attack and successful with four out of five goal attempts in difficult conditions. But this was far from a one- man show as all 18 involved played their parts in a well-deserved win, writes Bill Wallis.
Paviors could be forgiven for thinking that the win points were theirs for the taking when they visited the league’s bottom side, but they met an OLs team bristling with intent and purpose and who matched them blow for blow throughout.
Three of last week’s casualties were unable to take their place in this week’s selection so Richard Parker moved up to scrum half, Paddy Reid came in at full back and Jordan Bunn returned on the wing.
Paviors had first use of the strong wind and took an early lead with a penalty after fifteen minutes. They followed that up with a try five minutes later when their left wing outflanked OLs’ defence to put them 8-0 ahead.
The visitors kept up the pressure but met a determined and well organised OL’s defence, the home side working their way progressively into the game. The bigger Paviors pack had the edge in the set scrums but were matched in every other phase by OL’s eight, Paul Willis giving a masterclass in lineout jumping and the returning Darren Dean strong in the set piece.
OLs reduced the deficit with a fine try, started by Paddy Reid who found Ben Wiles, the centre in turn offloading beautifully in the tackle to give Jordan Bunn the opportunity to slice through and touch down under the posts, Wiles adding the goal points for 7-8.
OLs registered another excellent try when Dom Hammond and Robin Corrigan combined in a set piece lineout ploy to send Glenn Todd through for a try, Wiles again converting for a 14-8 lead for OLs at half time. This rounded off an excellent first 40 for OLs, who defended strongly when Paviors piled on the pressure and then took their opportunities well when they came.
With the wind at their backs in the second half, OLs brought on Ryan Cleaver at fly half who, along with Wiles, used the wind effectively to find space behind Paviors defence with some probing kicks.
it was Paviors who drew first blood after the break when they kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit to 14-11.
But OLs hit back after eight minutes following a finely struck penalty by Cleaver. The following lineout was won, OLs pack drove for the line and Parker seized the ball to dart over in the corner, Wiles adding the extras with a fine kick from near touch for a 21-11 lead.
This signalled a strong Paviors fight back and they worked their left wing away on a strong run to the line, the conversion hauling them right back into contention at 21-18.
When a midfield break ended in a well taken try, Paviors were now in the lead at 21-23 with almost twenty minutes to play, the rain getting heavier and the light becoming increasingly poor. Jack Seager and Andy Coleman came on in OLs’ back row and both had an impact, one crunching tackle by Coleman visibly lifting his side.
With less than fifteen minutes left on the clock and OLs back on the offensive, Paviors conceded a penalty some 35 metres from their posts and Ben Wiles calmly kicked his side back into the lead at 24-23.
Over the remaining minutes, Paviors enjoyed plenty of possession as they went looking for the winning score and OLs knew that the slightest slip could cost them the match. But they succeeded in containing their opponents, pinning them down in their own half for the remainder of the match and an agonisingly long period of added time.
Catching the eye frequently in this match were Paddy Reid, Jordan Bunn, Robin Corrigan and Ryan Cleaver who have all stepped up to 1st team action this season and who are growing in stature with each game.
Next up is a formidable task when OLs visit Bedford Athletic this Saturday. Now six points clear at the top of the table, Athletic handed out a 50-point beating to Newbold just two weeks ago to underline the size of the task that faces OLs.
Team: Paddy Reid, Jordan Bunn, Charlie Seager, Ben Wiles, Ben Scott; Grant Inch, Richard Parker; Olly Cowley, Dom Hammond, Darren Dean, Robin Corrigan, Paul Willis, James Orbinson, Mark Todd, Glenn Todd.
Replacements: Ryan Cleaver, Andy Coleman, Jack Seager.