Pictures from Fenley Field on Saturday
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 2 East (South)
Old Laurentians 48
OLs played some of their best rugby of the season in romping to an eight-try victory over a Luton side who were in the game and threatening for the first 25 minutes and took a 12-7 lead, but were then overwhelmed by the pace and power of the home side’s play, writes Bill Wallis.
OLs had their first score on the board inside two minutes after Ben Scott ran back a misplaced touch finder, the ball was quickly recycled to Jon Bean and the fly half put in a clever kick towards the right touchline where Jordan Bunn gathered to put Andy Orbinson over in the corner, Bean converting for 7-0.
Luton fought back strongly, their big pack strong in the tight and giving OLs problems in this phase of play early on. First their number 8 crashed over after picking up at a close in scrum after ten minutes; then, with a ploy straight out of OL’s play book, they scored down the five-metre channel after a lineout close to the home line.
But once OLs hit their stride they ran their opponents ragged to add seven more tries and 41 points without reply before Luton got one back in added time at the end of the game.
Such was their growing confidence that an easy three points from a penalty award in front of the posts were spurned, the kick taken quickly and a shimmy by Ben Roach gave his centre partner Troy Owen half a gap which he exploited to go over. The conversion was missed but OLs were back on terms at 12-12.
Then came three tries in quick succession in the five minutes before half time. After quick lineout possession, James Orbinson appeared in the back line to scythe through midfield with a powerful run before finding Ash Moore on his shoulder, the second row shrugged off several tacklers to go over and Bean converted his try for 19-12.
Moore had come off the bench for the injured Ben O’Riordan and showed again what potential he has, a powerful runner, strong in the tackle and with excellent hands, all amply demonstrated in this game.
He was followed over by Jordan Bunn who finished a sweeping attack going both ways; then Dom Hammond rounded off more top quality handling by backs and forwards alike. Bean converted the second of these tries for a half time score of 31-12.
OLs turned round to face a wind that was growing in strength and soon built a platform in Luton’s half. Charlie Seager athletically won the ball at the tail of an attacking lineout, the pack drove for the line and James Orbinson claimed the touchdown, Bean adding the goal points for 38-12.
This was followed by arguably the game’s best try when a long Luton clearance kick failed to find touch in OL’s half and full back Ollie Jones skilfully fielded a ball that was swirling in the wind before feeding Bunn.
The wing took off on a diagonal run towards the right flank and linked with Troy Owen before looping round to take the return pass and go over in the far corner.
James Orbinson went over for his second try, created in almost identical fashion to his first after another Seager lineout take, Bean converting. OLs kept up the pressure and Seager himself got over the line but just nudged the ball forward as he crossed.
By this time OLs had lost both lock forwards to injury, Ben Anderson following O’Riordan off; and Troy Owen also came off feeling a knock so OLs lost some of their earlier momentum. Disappointingly a try was conceded at the end when the Luton inside centre ran through some flimsy defence to touch down.
This was a highly satisfying win with contributions from all elements of the team.
Olly Cowley was at the centre of everything created by the forwards and the back row of the Orbinson brothers and Seager showed again what a high quality unit they have become.
Jon Bean ran affairs in midfield, massively assisted by the excellent service from the ever-consistent James Collins at scrum half; and, although he didn’t get on the score-sheet, Ben Scott regularly troubled the Luton defence with his strong running on the left wing.
Next up for OLs in their quest to retain second place in the league, and a play-off for promotion, is a trip to Market Harborough on Saturday.
The reverse fixture in November ended in a narrow, five point win for the Fenley Field side, although they were again guilty of relaxing in the final minutes to allow their opponents to snatch a losing bonus point, a habit they would do well to shake!