Big cup semi-final against Kidderminster on Saturday
1st XV pictures by Morris Troughton-Hume
Midlands West 2 (South)
Leamington 10 - Old Laurentians 29
Report by Bill Wallis
Some way off the most fluent performance in their recent unbeaten run, OLs had to work hard to claim this win over a spirited and lively Leamington side, efficiently taking the scoring chances that came their way but forced to wait until the dying moments of the game before the best try of the afternoon secured the vital bonus point.
It didn’t start well as within the first five minutes OLs lost two key players to injury, centre Troy Owen forced off with concussion which will rule him out of the Intermediate Cup semi-final next week; and prop Olly Cowley, who was able to return to the action in the second half.
Matters deteriorated further shortly afterwards when Leamington’s lively number 8 peeled off the back of a maul to power over for a try and a 5-0 lead for the home side.
Equality was restored with 12 minutes gone when, after a quickly taken lineout, the ball was moved rapidly away to Jordan Bunn on the right, the wing rounding his man before outpacing the covering defence to touch down wide out.
On the half hour mark Bunn struck again, intercepting an ambitious Leamington pass on half way to run in unchallenged, Greg Loydall adding the goal points for a 12-5 lead.
OLs were by now getting the upper hand in the set scrums and Ash Moore was posing problems for the Leamington defence with his strong running off the base. But at scrum half Leamington had a wily and experienced campaigner in Patch Northover who worked well with his number 8 to tidy up possession that was often coming on the retreat and turn it to his side’s advantage.
Leamington’s backline looked dangerous with ball in hand, but too often their handling let them down and an optimistic pass that fell short was seized on by Luke Townsend, who used his footballing skills to control the ball before picking it up to outpace the defence from half way and touch down. Loydall improved his try and OLs were 19-5 ahead at the break, the first half extending to some 53 minutes with the frequent injury stoppages.
Leamington struck back after 12 minutes of the second half, driving over OL’s line from a close in lineout to score and making it clear that they were still very much in contention at 19-10.
Much of the play was now in Leamington’s half and the penalty count against them was mounting. But OLs failed to capitalise on some good field positions in the face of determined defence by the home side before Loydall went for goal from another penalty, successfully potting it to push OL’s lead out to 22-10.
OLs then struck for the game’s final score from an unpromising position close to their own line, quick scrum ball reaching Loydall who threw a long pass in front of his own posts to Harry Spears wide on the left. The wing took the ball up to half way before he was hauled down by a cover tackle, the ball was swiftly recycled to Ben Roach coming up fast and the centre sliced through the remnants of the defence to score under the posts. Loydall added the goal points for the final act of the match.
OLs travel to Kidderminster on Saturday for the semi-final of the Intermediate Cup with some selection issues to be resolved through injury and non-availability. Without doubt, the home side will still be smarting from the league defeat they suffered at Fenley Field two weeks ago and thirsting for revenge as well as looking to progress to the final. Both sides already know that they will have to travel for the final, which will be hosted by the winners of the other semi-final between Olney and Kenilworth, who meet at the Buckinghamshire club’s ground on Saturday.
Warwickshire League 1
Old Laurentian 2nd XV 36 – Leamington 2nd XV 12
Report by Garrie Reeve
After a break of four weeks, OLs returned to league action with a home game against Leamington, looking to take revenge for the uncharacteristic defeat to their opponents earlier in the season. Withdrawals meant that Leamington could only start with 13 players with OLs only permitted to field 14 as a result.
OLs started the brighter and after already squandering one opportunity to score were rewarded for their early efforts when a trademark powerful run resulted in a try for the influential Glenn Todd after 10 minutes.
Leamington, although a man down, were not letting this affect the way they approached the game, attacking OLs whenever they had the ball. They scored their first try of the game when their number 12 cut through the OL’s midfield to score a converted try under the posts.
OLs, now trailing 5 – 7, would soon be on the attack again. A penalty kicked to the corner provided them with an attacking lineout from which they drove the ball towards the Leamington line but were stopped just short. The ball was quickly passed out to the backs where Luke Billyeald was waiting to crash through the stretched Leamington defence to score his tenth try of the season.
A third try for OLs followed 5 minutes before half time. Another attacking lineout, deep inside the Leamington 22, was again driven towards the Leamington line. Again, the Leamington forwards prevented the OL’s pack from scoring, but from the resulting ruck, could not stop the ball from being passed to the blind side where birthday boy Will Adam scored in the corner.
On the stroke of half time, Leamington scored their second try. A well taken lineout inside their own 22 was spun out to the backs. Poor communication by the home defence saw the Leamington 12 cut a very good line into open space, running nearly the length of the pitch to score a fine solo try, leaving the score 17 – 12 as the half time whistle blew.
With changes in personnel for OLs, the second half began in a scrappy fashion as it took a while for either side to settle down. It wasn’t until just after the hour mark that OLs broke the second half deadlock. Fine interplay and support down the OL’s left saw the ball fed to Adam who raced around the Leamington defence to add his second try. With the extras added, and with a lead of 12 points, OLs were not out of sight of a spirited Leamington side.
It would take another ten minutes for OLs to score a fifth try and finally put the game beyond Leamington. Again, fine interplay saw the ball passed down the OL’s back line where the evergreen Gary Hammond fed Billyeald to score his second try of the afternoon.
There was enough time for OLs to add their sixth try of the match from an attacking line out inside the Leamington 22. Quick ball off the top of the lineout was fed to the backs, where captain Sam White continued his recent scoring form to dance his way to the try line. Byron Caullton took over kicking duties and duly converted his captain’s try.
A fine second half performance by OLs, which was needed to blow the cobwebs off after the lengthy lay off and a stuttering first half. Another home fixture follows this weekend when OLs entertain Broadstreet 3’s, looking to complete a league double over their local rivals.
Finally, we thank Leamington for fulfilling the fixture when short of players. Other clubs would simply cry off and leave both sets of players without a game. And for the effort they showed throughout the match. They are a credit to the spirit of the game.