Pictures by Mike Baker
RFU Intermediate Cup, Midlands – Quarter Final
Old Laurentians 36 – Lincoln 7
Report by Bill Wallis
OLs went into this game with a much-changed team following injuries that side-lined three key players from the fine win over Silhillians the previous week, Ben Scott, Jon Bean and Ash Moore having to sit this one out; and the non-availability of Dom Hammond and the Orbinson brothers meant a much-changed pack, with Nav Gohil coming in at hooker for the first time and Chris Peachey making his debut at blindside flanker.
On the plus side, it was great to be able to welcome back into 1st team action those seasoned campaigners Troy Owen and Ben O’Riordan, both after prolonged injury absence. That invaluable experience was supplemented by Marc Eagles, in at full back and making his first appearance in several years, the three of them having been working back towards match fitness in the 2nd XV.
Lincoln proved to be a tough nut to crack, their pack dominating possession for much of the first half leaving OLs with just scraps to feed off. But they couldn’t breach OLs’ defensive line and remained pointless through this critical time before OLs took control of the game after the break.
OLs adopted the sensible approach of taking the opportunities that presented themselves and in the first 20 minutes Greg Loydall kicked three penalties, all from distance and all beautifully struck.
As half time approached, the quick thinking Loydall decided it was time to break up the play a bit, tapped a quick penalty on Lincoln’s 10-yard line and sent Jordan Bunn away down the right flank. As the defence got back to OL’s wing he found Loydall up on his inside to go over, converting his own try for a 16-0 half time lead.
It was that man Loydall who set the scoreboard moving again ten minutes after the break, kicking a penalty for 19-0.
As the game entered its final quarter, OLs had repelled the best that Lincoln could offer and were now on top, although for a five-minute spell the visitors had several opportunities with a succession of penalties in OLs’ territory. They opted for scrums and from the third of these, Charlie Seager stole their possession and broke away. The ball reached Ben Roach whose finely judged kick down the line was gathered by Bunn and the wing crossed in the corner, Loydall improved the try and OLs were 26-0 ahead.
Lincoln were undeterred by this large deficit and hit back with ten minutes left to play, lock forward Keaton finishing off a strong forward drive to touch down, fly half Dixon added the two points and OLs’ lead was cut to 26-7.
As the clock ran down, OLs were attacking freely and after several phases of play Dan Price popped up on the right, feinted to cut inside then delivered a perfect pass to lock forward Cain Jones who went over in the corner for 31-7.
OLs had brought Price off the bench for his 1st team debut, marking a significant moment in the club’s history. Dan was one of the 20 or so youngsters who had turned up at the first ever session of OLs’ Mini & Junior section some ten years ago. He passed through every age group from Under 7 and is now one of the leading players in the current Colts XV, and the first ever to graduate from the Minis to the 1st XV. By coincidence his father, Darren Price, was the 1st XV captain when OLs last played Lincoln some 19 years ago. Price Jnr looked composed and confident in this highly promising debut and might have had a try when he chased a kick ahead, but the ball bounced wickedly to deny him.
As the clock ran down James Collins darted and weaved his way through for an excellent try from the 22 after a fine run out of defence by Ben Roach. Loydall missed the conversions of the last two tries, one bouncing back off a post, but the fly half finished with a personal tally of 21 points and, five games after returning to the club, is having an ever-increasing influence on affairs.
But the man who caught the coaches’ eye with his all-action performance and was named as their man of the match was flanker Chris Peachey, who clearly enjoyed his debut in the 1st XV.
OLs now await with interest to see who they draw in the last four, with two other teams from Midlands 2 West (South), Kenilworth and Kidderminster, also through, joined by Olney from Midlands 2 East. Meanwhile, this Saturday, it’s a return to league action when OLs travel to take on Barkers Butts.