Buzzards 27 Belgrave 21
Leighton Buzzard managed to hold off a strong Belgrave team from Leicester to remain top of Midlands 2 east. With Leighton and Belgrave one and two in the league at the start of the day and only one point difference, although Leighton have a game in hand, this was always going to be a tough test for the boys from Bedfordshire.
The opening ten minutes were played at a frantic pace with both teams wanting to attack with the ball. Buzzards worked their way into the visitors 22m area with good handling and fast footwork. After a couple of penalties against the Leicestershire team, Andy Harris Smith, was stopped just short of the line but the ball was picked up by James Pratt who went over for the first points of the game. The conversion by Ewan Starling made it 7-0 with ten minutes gone. However Belgrave came right back at the Buzzards and scored an unconverted try from a line out close to the home teams line to make it 7-5 three minutes later.
The game was picking up pace and Euan Irwin took an interception on the half way line and was stopped just short of the try line by the covering fullback. Buzzards were looking for a quick recycle of the ball but were stopped by a deliberate knock on from Belgrave earning the offender ten minutes in the sin bin and Starling stepped up to take an additional 3 points from the penalty . 10-5
Belgrave were playing the type of game expected with the ball mainly staying with their big forwards allowing them to keep possession if not territory thanks to stout defending from the young Buzzrards team. This paid off for the visitors who scored a second unconverted try to even up the scores at 10-10 after 30 minutes rugby.
Just before the break Leighton were awarded another penalty in the red zone near the Belgrave try line and Starling added the 3 points to make the half time score 13-10 but all to play for.
Belgrave responded strongly and a penalty at the start of the second half evened the scores at 13-13. The visitors did manage to cross the whitewash again but were judged to have been held up by some great defence from the Leighton boys. Belgrave took the lead for the first time in the match with another penalty to make it 13-16- and 20-minutes left.
Leighton are not top of the league for no reason and were attacking deep into the visitor’s territory when Ed Wiggins emerged from the back of a ruck 10 meters out and wriggled his way through a couple of tackles to score by the posts. Again Starling stepped up and took the extras to regain the lead at 20-16.
Leighton were now in control and captain Jack Whitehouse showed his skill and pace, opening up the defence in front of the posts and scored his 7th try of the this seasons campaign to make it 25 -16. Starling doing the honours once more 27-16.
Belgrave were not finished and scored a late try of their own with minutes to spare. Making the final score 27-21 and giving them a losing bonus point.
This was a tough game for Buzzards but they showed why they are top of the league with another win against strong opposition. Next week they travel up the A5 to play Bugbrooke. The result was a draw when they last played in October so Leighton will be looking to make amends.
Leighton has been selected as the venue for the final of the RFU Midlands Intermediate Cup against Malvern RFC on the 14th March. Details are being worked out and will be published as soon as they are known.