PLUCKY BUZZARDS GIVE LEAGUE LEADERS SCARE
LEIGHTON BUZZARD 21 – 24 SYSTON
Leighton Buzzard came close to recording the biggest upset in the Midlands 1 East league season by leading Syston, the league leaders, for over an hour. Fielding their strongest side this season, Buzzards were excellent in attack, brave in defence and played their part in a highly entertaining and pulsating match.
Having lost the toss, Buzzards kicked off with the benefit of the slope and the wind. Straightaway Syston were under pressure and had hardly been out of their half when Leighton took the lead after eleven minutes. Fly- half Jack Whitehouse made the decisive break and then spun a huge pass that was superbly taken by winger Jack Kempster to score in the corner. Darren Braybrook converted from the touchline to make the score 7-0.
Leighton almost added to their lead after twenty minutes with a Euan Irwin break but the ball was lost forward just short of the line. However pressure was building with the league leaders unable to get a foothold in the Buzzard half. With thirty-two minutes played, Mike Robert made a decisive break and, whilst James Brett was held up just short, the ball was recycled and captain Mike Lynch crashed over. With Darren Braybrook’s conversion, Buzzards led 14-0.
Straight from the kick-off, Jack Whitehouse chipped over the Syston backs, centre Euan Irwin re-gathered the ball and ran fully 60 metres to score under the posts. Again Darren Braybrook added the extras to take the score to 21-0. Despite opportunities for both sides that was the final score of the half.
However Syston are the league leaders for a reason. In the second half they appeared a different side – changing their game plan to a much faster tempo, keeping the ball in hand and taking quick penalties whenever the opportunity arose. This time it was Buzzards who couldn’t get out of their half. Working through numerous phases of possession Syston crashed over for their first try after only three minutes – 21-7.
The pressure was now intense on Leighton – struggling to get any possession they were subjected to wave after wave of attack, but the defence was committed and unbending. Inevitably, the straight running and recycling game plan played at a tempo rarely seen at this level, brought results with two further tries. With one conversion missed Buzzards remained in front 21-19, but with twenty minutes still left.
Once again Buzzards’ defence held firm and it was with eight minutes left that Syston finally took the lead with their fourth try- 21-24. Unusually, three of the four Syston tries were scored by their loose head prop.
Finally Leighton managed to get some possession and challenge for an unlikely victory. With three minutes left Buzzards had a chance to kick a penalty for a possible draw, but with kicker Darren Braybrook off the field, Leighton chose to kick for the corner. Once this opportunity had passed, Syston kept possession to see out the match.
Buzzards secured a losing bonus point and remain tenth in the league.
Director of Rugby Dave Larham commented – “ The disappointment at the final whistle demonstrated our frustration at coming so close to a major upset. We knew at half-time that we had taken a commanding lead but on reflection probably didn’t convert the one-sided performance in to enough points on the scoreboard. All credit to Syston on their second- half performance that took our boys to a new level of intense pressure. We are still proud of our performance and commitment but have to learn the valuable lessons. I said to the boys afterwards that setbacks reveal true character and I’m looking forward to a positive week leading in to another big game next week away at Bedford Athletic.”