OLs clear second in the table now
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 2 East (South)
Old Laurentians 38
OLs gained ample revenge for the loss they suffered in the reverse fixture with Stamford in October, turning the tables comprehensively over Saturday’s opponents, writes Bill Wallis.
Starting strongly, with four tries and the bonus point secured by the half-hour mark, the only blot on their performance was a repeat of their tendency to leak tries when well on top, their points difference improving with this score but still the poorest of the top four clubs in the league.
With a combination of guile and strength, Troy Owen opened OL’s account with just two minutes on the clock, his try converted by Jon Bean.
OL’s pack soon established a supremacy in the tight that they never relaxed, and after demolishing Stamford’s eight in a scrum to earn a penalty they drove over from the following lineout, prop Olly Cowley touching down.
The pattern continued with OLs effectively denying Stamford any worthwhile possession from set pieces and Charlie Seager was next to cross, seizing on a loose ball, after Stamford failed to control possession from a scrum close to their line, to lift OLs into a 17-0 lead with 18 minutes played.
Stamford responded with a try after 22 minutes when their scrum half did well to recover possession after his pack were heaved back at a scrum close to OL’s line and create a try for his side, converted for 17-7.
OLs responded with a series of sweeping attacks, Jon Bean and Grant Inch both going close before Bean set up a try well taken by Inch and converted it for a 24-7 lead. They came close to increasing their lead on a couple of occasions before the half time break, one gilt edged chance wasted when the wrong option was taken close to the Stamford line. OLs continued in the same vein after the break, progressively building the pressure and regularly threatening the Stamford line before Dom Hammond crossed for a try, Bean converting for 31-7.
Out of the blue, Stamford responded with a try when their centre, aided by some flimsy defence, ran through from 20 metres out to touch down, the conversion was successful and the score 31-14.
OLs responded by going back on to the attack and were rewarded when Mark Todd was driven over from a lineout and Bean added the goal points for a 38-14 lead. Todd’s score yielded an unusual statistic as it meant that all three front row forwards had crossed for a try in the game.
Stamford reversed the previous trend by driving over from a lineout for their third try while OLs were reduced to 14 men after their second yellow card of the afternoon, one more near the end meaning they had played for 25 minutes of the game with 14 men.
The last minutes of the game were played out in Stamford’s 22 with OLs pressing hard for the seventh try but held out by some sturdy defence from the visitors.
The win keeps OLs in second place in the league with a three-point advantage over third, now occupied by Oadby Wyggestonians who leapfrogged Oundle after the latter lost to leaders Peterborough. With the business end of the season now rapidly approaching, the battle is on for the promotion play-off place with Peterborough 13 points ahead at the top and almost certainly heading for the league title. Oadby will face both Peterborough and Oundle on the run-in as well as visiting Fenley Field for what could be the defining encounter, so OLs are in a good position to claim the play-off spot at the season’s end.
The quest continues this Saturday with a trip to Belgrave. The Leicester based club are down in 8th position but have put together a good run of results over recent weeks and will provide tough opposition for OLs on their own turf.