Pictures by Mike Baker
Friendly: Old Laurentian 2nd XV 30 – Long Buckby 2nd XV 7
Report by Garrie Reeve
OL’s 2nd XV welcomed Long Buckby to Fenley Field for their third encounter this season. Due to late cry offs, OLs fielded a side with many changes from the previous week’s. Sam Miles reverted to the centre, Andy Thorne filled in at fly half, with Jordi Pocknell partnering James Harris in the second row.
These changes took a little getting used to with the first 20 minutes a stalemate, as both sides looked to find a way through the well organised defences. However, Buckby were to open the scoring after a lapse in concentration and some missed tackles led to a breakaway try under the posts for a 7 - 0 lead.
This was a brief lapse however, as with renewed concentration the excellent OL’s forwards got their team back into the contest. Strong running from Harris, Pocknell, the evergreen Gary Hammond and the improving Ash Moore gave the OL’s decent territory from which they could attack the Buckby line and after a number of well recycled phases of play, Pocknell crossed the line in the corner for an unconverted try.
OL’s continued to attack for the remainder of the half only to be stopped by illegal infringements by Long Buckby. Andy Thorne, who had taken over kicking duties, converted two penalties to leave the half time score 11 – 7 to OL’s.
Refreshed by the half time break both sides attacked each other with renewed frequency. However, both defences stood firm in what was proving to be a highly competitive match. It was not until the 65th minute that OL’s managed to add to their score. The late arrival of Luke Billyeald into the side was a boost to the OL’s attack and after numerous phases inside the Buckby 22, Billyeald was able to force his way over the line close to the posts for a converted try.
The Buckby defence were now looking tired and it was not long before Ben Shepherd was to follow his centre partner in scoring a third try for OLs. Excellent forward play and direct running from the backs created numerous phases deep inside Buckby territory, Shepherd finishing off a slick passing move as he proved too hard for the Buckby defence to handle. Thorne converted for the extra 2 points.
Tiredness and injuries meant that for the last 10 minutes of the game, Buckby were not the threat they had earlier been. It was the OL’s that were to score the last points of the contest as Harris, aided by the rest of the forward pack, drove over the line to score a well deserved try of his own. Thorne missed out on a maximum as he miscued his kick to the right of the posts.
This was a well contested game by two, now familiar, sides which was not reflected by the final score line. A good build up to OL’s Clonmell Cup semi-final against Southam in two week’s time. OL’s will need a repeat of this performance if they are to progress to another final.