Chance to regroup this week as injury list mounts
Midlands 3 East (South)
Rugby St Andrews 7
Long term unavailabilities and late cry offs for the tedious trip to high flying Oundle left Saints with an unbalanced squad, already depleted in the backs and with only tight forwards on the bench.
By early in the second half injuries left them with 11 forwards and just four regular threequarters on the pitch, before being reduced to 14 men for the final quarter. Oundle made the most of the opportunities this presented as they ran in eight tries, four of which came when Saints were a man down, to move to the top of the table, despite tremendous commitment and effort from every Saints player.
The home side took an early 10point lead before the team had settled but they were quickly back in contention when Ben Steele seized on an error to touch down and Ryan Taylor converted. A long range penalty stretched the lead before scrum half Liam Clynes was forced off.
Matt Waldron moved from lock to wing, reducing Saints’ line out options, and the reshuffled pack was immediately under pressure from which Oundle grabbed their second try. Saints responded with a series of attacks without any tangible reward. Hooker David Hunt was the next casualty, soon followed by Ben Steele but it was against the run of play that the Northants side added another try which was converted for a 27-7 interval lead.
Good driving play from the restart had Oundle backpedaling but their powerful runners cut through once again for another seven points. The influential Spencer Brown was the next injury, replaced by the already injured Liam Clynes, whose plucky return lasted 10 minutes, before he was again sidelined, leaving Saints to play out the final stages with 14 men. They had held their until then but now, with three forwards in the back division and only seven in the pack Oundle hit them with four tries in a 10 minute spell. Remarkably Saints dragged one last effort out of tired limbs and had the home side under pressure for the last 10 minutes but were denied even a late consolation.
Saints should not be too despondent about this loss. Oundle just lost out on promotion last year and look good enough to challenge again but their task was made so much easier by Saints horrendous run of injuries.
Without a game this week, they will have a chance to regroup and hopefully welcome some of the casualties back for the trip to Stockwood Park.