Pictures by Mike Baker
Midlands 2 West (South)
Rugby St Andrews 17 Old Laurentians 45
When OLs breezed into a 28-3 lead by half time, with the try bonus point secured, the match was effectively won, writes Bill Wallis.
Saints had been on the back foot and under heavy pressure for almost all of the first 40 and the outlook was bleak for them after the break. But far from succumbing to the inevitable they fought back tenaciously and went over for two tries to match OL’s second-half tally. If they can start games like they finished this one, they should soon be improving their precarious league position.
Neither side gained any real advantage in set pieces, although the capricious wind sometimes made a lottery of lineouts. But in broken play OL’s pack established a clear advantage, the back row of James Orbinson, Charlie Seager and Ash Moore carrying strongly, turning possession over and blunting any attempts to break out of defence by Saints forwards.
OL’s first three tries all came from lineouts after Saints had conceded penalties under pressure. After 10 minutes Seager and Moore drove hard for the line and after quick possession was moved smartly away to the left, centre Greg Loydall spotted a gap and darted through to score, Jon Bean converting.
OL’s second and third tries were carbon copies in the build-up, prop Karl Chaplow crashing over for the first before scrum half James Collins sniped through for the next one, Bean converting both for 21-0.
On a rare excursion into OL’s 22, Saints full back Will Morgan kicked a penalty to reduce the deficit after 30 minutes. But OLs went back on to the offensive for the remainder of the half and more relentless phase play ended with number 8 Ash Moore getting over for the bonus point try, Bean converting for 28-3 at half time.
Undeterred by the large deficit Saints fought back in the second half, their big pack finding a second wind. After 15 minutes a strong run by wing Bradley Ellis, breaking through several tackles on the way, set up the position from which flanker Grant Taylor went over, Morgan converting for 28-10; and Saints were down to 13 men at the time against OL’s 14, a flurry of yellow cards reducing both sides
OL’s Luke Townsend had been well marshalled in the first half, Saints recognising the threat he posed and using the touch line as an extra defender, although OL’s wing gave notice of his threat when he cut inside on a couple of occasions, his quick feet and pace making ground. But he is at his most dangerous in broken play and after OLs had turned over possession in their own half, he popped up in midfield to leave defenders grasping at thin air as he sprinted through from half way to score, Bean adding the goal points for 35-10.
With 30 minutes of the half gone, Jon Bean put in a smart kick which found space behind Saint’s defence, Townsend was on to it in a flash and the ball bounced nicely for him to cruise in under the posts, Bean converting for 42-10.
But Saints came back strongly and with Ellis prominent once more in the lead up, number 8 Scott Randall went over for a try, converted by Morgan, which was due reward for a stirring second half performance. There was time still for Bean to add a penalty to bring up the final score, the fly half enjoying a 100% success rate from the tee, putting over seven from seven attempts.
A great afternoon’s entertainment, enjoyed by a big crowd packing both touchlines - and the clubhouse before and after, where St Andrews’ welcome was both warm and generous.
This Saturday, OLs were due to entertain Southwell in the 3rd round of the Intermediate Cup but their opponents pulled out of the fixture early this week giving OLs a bye into the Quarter Finals, which will be played on November 24th. But there is action at Fenley Field when OL’s 2nd XV will be hosting Evesham in a friendly match, kick off 2.15.
Spears makes his mark with OL’s 3rd XV
Harry Spears made a little bit of history on Saturday when he became the first product of OL’s Mini & Junior Section, first set up some 11 years ago, to graduate to one of the Club’s senior sides (apart from the Colts) when he turned out for the club’s 3rd XV at Daventry. He certainly made his mark when running in three tries and landing a conversion in a 55-5 win for OLs over their Daventry counterparts. We picture 17-year-old Harry with Club Chairman Andy Spriggs, a team mate in the 3rds, with the mere matter of some 50 odd years between their ages – Spriggs made his debut for the club in the early 70s!