RUGBY SLIDESHOW: Close win for Old Laurentians 2nds over Stratford

Pictures by Mike Baker

Midlands 2 West (South)

Nate Ruddell in Saturday's win against Stratford

Nate Ruddell in Saturday's win against Stratford

Kidderminster 34 Old Laurentians 16

These old rivals last met in the league some five years ago with one meeting in a cup game in the interim. But you have to go back to March 2008 for a Kidderminster win as OLs had held the upper hand continuously over the intervening period, writes Mick Warwick.

So the Worcestershire side were delighted to turn the tables in this encounter, recording what was ultimately a comfortable win and inflict a second successive league defeat on the Fenley Field side – and with an identical score line to the first.

It all looked good for OLs in a first half when they were very much in contention, winning plenty of possession and creating good field positions but too frequently failing to finish off what they had created.

Trafford Warwick with the ball for OLs 2nds and James Melvin

Trafford Warwick with the ball for OLs 2nds and James Melvin

Typical of this profligacy was the failure to capitalise on a penetrating run by OL’s man of the match Dom Hammond when a gilt edged scoring opportunity died through poor support.

Kidderminster took a 5-0 lead after 19 minutes when OLs lineout possession was squandered, the home side pouncing for a try. But minutes later the ball was successfully transferred to Hammond wide out and the hooker went over for the equalising try.

As the half hour mark approached OLs were looking sharp and confident when Jon Bean put them ahead by 8-5 with a penalty. Then some indifferent defence and two missed tackles presented Kidderminster with a try to retake the lead at 8-10.

As the half drew to a close, Bean kicked a penalty after a period of heavy pressure on the Kidderminster line, OLs taking a lead of 11-10 into the break.

Andy Thorne skips a Stratford tackle, with Robin Corrigan close behind

Andy Thorne skips a Stratford tackle, with Robin Corrigan close behind

But the second half saw a different story as Kidderminster took charge of the game and, assisted by some indifferent OLs defensive play, added four tries to take a commanding 34-11 lead before Hammond struck back with his second try as the clock ran down.

On the plus side, OLs were pleased to welcome Ryan Cleaver back after a long absence when he came off the bench in the second half to play on the wing and looked confident and sharp.

There is no action for the 1st XV this week, a blank league Saturday. But three matches are scheduled for Fenley Field when the 2nds look to make it three from three when meeting Silhillians in the Warwickshire 2nd XV Shield, the 3rds entertain Harbury and the Colts take on Barkers Butts.

Warwickshire League 1

Ben Shepherd, with Sam Miles

Ben Shepherd, with Sam Miles

Old Laurentian 2nd XV 34 Stratford on Avon 2nd XV 33

Old Laurentians 2nd team were looking to win and extend their unbeaten start to the season when they met Stratford at Fenley Field, writes Garrie Reeve.

Historically a strong side, Stratford began the game well as did OLs, who matched their opponents in what was to become a highly competitive encounter.

Stratford were the first to score after 12 minutes.

However, OL’s replied when a Stratford scrum deep inside their 22 was pushed back for OL’s to recover possession and the ball was passed out for Will Adam crash over the line.

The first half continued to follow an end to end pattern as neither side were able to take control of the match.

OLs were able to add to the score line after fine support play and a controlled forward drive resulted in a rare try for James Melvin.

Looking to build on their lead, OL’s were to gift Stratford an almost instant reply. Possession was relinquished far too easily when an unsupported drive into the Stratford half was turned over.

Quickly the ball was passed out wide where poor tackling left an easy run in for Stratford to score unchallenged under the posts. The conversion would leave the half time score 10- 12.

Injuries were starting to take their toll on both sides and Stratford would eventually finish the match with 14 players. OLs were able to finish with a full side but lost the experience of Kev White and Leigh Fisher but players like Gary Hammond, Ricky Reed and Ben Shepherd led the effort with their considerable experience.

And it was Shepherd that OL’s would rely on to put them in charge of the game.

Two typical hard run tries either side of an Adam penalty would see OL’s score 17 points inside the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Not to be beaten, Stratford were to come back into the match towards the hour mark.

Again, poor tackling led to a Stratford try, excellently converted by their fly half.

OLs were to score their fifth try only a few minutes later. Well constructed phases of play and fine passing amongst the backs led to Charlie Wragg scoring an excellent try, his first for over 10 years after having recently returned to playing rugby.

Even more remarkable was the fact he scored while playing with an undiagnosed broken ankle. The conversion was well struck by Nate Ruddell from out wide to renew OL’s 15-point lead.

This lead was to be crucial. OLs had taken their foot off the gas and were guilty of poor decision making when trying to see the game out.

Direct running exposed a tired OL’s defence as Stratford scored two late tries to reduce the lead to only one point.

However, this was too little too late as the referee blew for full time to come to OL’s rescue and prevent an unlikely Stratford comeback.

With a Warwickshire Shield match at home to Sillhillians this weekend OL’s defence and game management will have to be improved if progress in the competition is to be made.