Performance matches expectations against bottom club
Midlands 2 East (South)
Rushden & Higham 7
Old Laurentians 56
OLs went into this match against the league’s bottom side as firm favourites for the win points, but their performance in similar situations this season has not always matched the expectation, writes Bill Wallis.
However, this time they made no mistake, scoring ten tries in overcoming plucky opponents who stuck manfully to their task before being overwhelmed in the final quarter.
On a heavy pitch and playing up the slope in the first half, OLs had the first score on the board when James Collins finished off a series of attacks for the first try after four minutes’ play, followed over by Dom Hammond 10 minutes later, both tries coming from strong forward pressure as OLs established a dominance up front that they never relinquished.
The backs took over for the next two tries, first a break by Grant Inch leading to Jordan Bunn going over, then Troy Owen doing the spadework before Inch crossed for OL’s fourth, bonus point try by the half hour mark. Jon Bean added the goal points to Inch’s try to bring up a 22-0 scoreline.
Such had been OL’s dominance of both territory and possession that over the first 35 minutes Rushden had only crossed the halfway line with re-starts, but then their centre Buzka did so with a run of power and pace that skittled defenders and took him over for a fine individual try, converted for a half time score of 22-7.
After the break OLs continued to dominate the game and for the first 20 minutes of the second half it took some sturdy and resolute defence by the home side to keep them at bay, along with some poor finishing by OLs, but this effort was now taking its toll and six further tries were added in the final quarter.
Scrums became uncontested after injuries to two Rushden front row players, which neutralised OLs supremacy in the tight, but the visitors went further ahead when Andy Orbinson touched down after an unstoppable surge from a lineout ten metres out from the home line.
Two minutes later a scything break by Ben Roach led to a try by Bean which lifted his seasonal points tally over 100 and capped an accomplished display by the fly half; he was followed over by replacement Ash Moore whose try took the score to 37-7.
Miles Feeney was forced to leave the field with a broken nose, an unfortunate setback for a whole-hearted player who is becoming a valuable member of the squad; and he was joined on the side-lines by Grant Inch after a knock to his leg, flanker Charlie Seager moving to the wing in his place.
With Troy Owen providing the assists, Seager then crossed for two tries inside five minutes and was only stopped from recording what would have been a remarkable hat-trick by a last-ditch tackle on the line.
When Jordan Bunn went over for his second try, it lifted his total for the season to 10 to draw level with James Orbinson in the race to be the team’s leading try scorer.
Orbinson didn’t get over in this match but with brother Andy and Charlie Seager forms a formidable back row unit that played a major part in softening up Rushden with robust defence and dynamic ball carrying.
OLs remain in second place with this win and gave their points difference a valuable boost. With no game this Saturday, the next league action is on February 11 when Stamford are the visitors.
Since OLs inexplicably collapsed in the first game against Stamford last October, the Lincolnshire side have had a mixed bag of results and the Fenley Field men will be particularly keen to delete the memory of that earlier encounter.