Fourth in the division now, just three points behind the leaders
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 2 East (South)
Old Laurentians 26 Olney 7
The strong winds forecast for Saturday afternoon arrived right on cue and blew diagonally across the Fenley Field pitch, making life uncomfortable for players and spectators alike, with a high turnout on the touchline following OL’s annual Vice Presidents Lunch, writes Bill Wallis.
OLs have used 30 players in their seven league and cup matches so far and have won six of them; and this match saw their sixth different half back combination in that run, when Sam White came in at scrum half to partner Harry Powell at 10. Saturday also saw three teams fielded by the club for the fourth time this season, a figure which would have been greater but for opposition teams scratching earlier 3rd XV games, all of which indicates a growing strength in depth for the club.
On Saturday, it was OLs who coped best with the conditions to run out comfortable winners, securing a try bonus point late in the game.
With the wind at their backs in the first half OLs spent most of it on the attack, but some dogged defence by the visitors and wrong options taken by OLs limited them to two tries and a lead of just 14-0 at the break, disappointing in the conditions.
The first try came after 12 minutes following a strong run through midfield by centre Troy Owen, the ball was quickly recycled when he was held and a deft pass by Harry Powell gave Ben Roach half an opening, which he took well to go over, converting his own try for 7-0.
As half time approached another dangerous thrust by Owen took play deep into Olney’s 22 and Ash Moore, as he was to do very effectively all afternoon, drove strongly for the line. Quickly recycled ball was moved smartly away to the right where James Orbinson finished the attack, touching down half way out for Roach to convert.
Olney struck back early in the second half, quickly taking a penalty in OL’s 22, and prop forward Stanton drove over for a try, converted for 14-7. But from this point OLs took charge of the game, playing sensible rugby against the strong wind. Twelve minutes into the second half they won a scrum against the head in Olney’s 22, James Orbinson picked up at the base and set off on an unstoppable run to the line for his second try, capping another fine, all-action performance by the flanker. Roach’s conversion attempt was blown off course but OLs had a 19-7 lead.
When Olney used the wind to gain a foothold in OL’s half, they regularly coughed up possession and OLs pack carried the ball strongly out of the danger zone. In the closing moments, Olney again established a position in OL’s 22 but lost a crucial scrum against the head and the ball was moved quickly down the line to Luke Townsend, who for once received it with some space to work in. Setting of for the line, his pace left covering defenders floundering in his wake and 60 metres later he touched down under the posts for a superb try, Ben Roach converting for the final points of the game.
It’s back to cup action on Saturday, when OLs visit Newark in the 3rd round of the Midlands Intermediate Cup.
The clubs last met two years ago when both were in Midlands 1 and the tally was one win apiece. Kick off at Newark’s fine Kelham Road ground is at 2.15pm.