ATTITUDE, DEFENCE AND OPPORTUNISM SECURE VITAL VICTORY
BUGBROOKE 10-19 LEIGHTON BUZZARD
Buzzards secured their fourth away win of the league season with victory against Northamptonshire side Bugbrooke, who were six places higher before the game. With the home side having more possession and territory, this was a game won by a mix of sheer doggedness, commitment and an ability to take limited chances.
Leighton kicked off and found themselves almost immediately under pressure in their own twenty-two. Bugbrooke had a number of attacking line-outs but Wills Messum’s athleticism managed to disrupt the home side’s throw, allowing Buzzards to clear.
Pressure continued to mount as Buzzards hardly got out of their half in the first 15 minutes but,as portent of what was to come, the Buzzard defence was brave and unbending. Despite continuous pressure, it was a moment of individual brilliance that opened the scoring after 21 minutes. Bugbrooke’s right wing, Adam Pepper, probably the most dangerous runner in the league, scored a fine individual try from half-way – as he had done earlier in the season at Leighton, when he was the difference between the two sides. With the conversion Buzzards trailed 7-0.
Finally Leighton managed to instigate their game plan, retaining possession through the phases and managing to make inroads into the opposition’s half. The result was almost immediate – slick hands in the centre made space for Arran Perry to make the decisive break with winger Darren Braybrook on hand to take the try-scoring pass. With the conversion missed, Buzzards trailed 7-5 after 25 minutes.
Leighton nearly went ahead when Geoff Branwhite was held up just short after a Darren Braybrook break, but shortly afterwards a Branwhite penalty gave Buzzards 7-8 lead at half time.
The second half started well for the Buzzards – a Bugbrooke dropped ball on half-way after only four minutes allowed Darren Braybrook to kick ahead and skilfully control the bouncing ball to win the chase comfortably to score his second try. Whilst the conversion was missed, a further Geoff Branwhite penalty five minutes later extended the Buzzards’ lead to 7-16.
Possession and territory was more evenly shared in the second half. Whilst Leighton’s kicking from hand was erratic – a number unintentionally going directly into touch – the game plan was being followed. The Buzzard scrum was solid and the forwards were continuing to disrupt the home side line-out. Mike Robert, playing at inside centre as captain Euan Irwin been moved to fly-half, had an excellent game punching holes in midfield, keeping the Buzzard pack on the front foot.
Half way through the half Buzzards missed a relatively straightforward penalty and nerves increased amongst the travelling support when a Bugbrooke penalty cut the lead to 10-16 with ten minutes left. However a further Geoff Branwhite penalty restored the nine point difference (10 -19) meaning the home side would need to score twice in the last seven minutes to deny a Leighton victory. In fact neither side could add to their total as Buzzards played out time.
The Buzzards remain in twelfth place but the four sides above them are all within 5 points. The team should take great heart from this show of collective will and a fine away victory against a mid-table side. The Buzzards have a week off before welcoming North Derbyshire side Dronfield to Wrights Meadow on February 11th.