BUZZARDS SLIP UP AT THE END – LEIGHTON BUZZARD 18- 22 MARKET RASEN AND LOUTH
For the third week running Buzzards were involved in a tight league match, this time at home against Lincolnshire side Market Rasen and Louth. Having led for most of the second half, Leighton lost out to a late try, scored in controversial circumstances.
Having lost the toss Buzzards kicked off uphill – ball handling was difficult all afternoon due to heavy rain that was to persist throughout the match. A successful penalty kick by Geoff Branwhite gave Leighton an early lead but the visitors equalled the score at 3-3 after eight minutes.
The next 15 minutes Leighton contributed to their ultimate defeat. Firstly, after losing their own scrum, a slip in midfield allowed Market Rasen to score a converted try (3-10). Shortly afterwards an over- ambitious Buzzard attack ended with a dropped pass on half-way – the visitors picked up the loose ball to score in the corner. With only 20 minutes played Buzzards were 3-15 down.
Leighton were struggling to gain possession – however from a penalty after 28 minutes , captain Euan Irwin made the initial break and passed to Geoff Branwhite who carved open the Market Rasen defence for Reece Harris- Smith to score in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed and with no further scoring the half time score remained 8-15.
Now with the benefit of the slope, Buzzards were confident they could turn the score around. Early pressure told with Greg Falcon scoring Buzzards second try after only eight minutes. Geoff Branwhite’s conversion equalled the scores at 15 -15 and seven minutes later a Branwhite penalty gave Leighton a 18-15 lead.
The game was closely fought but Leighton appeared to be in the ascendancy – whilst the visitors’ backs threatened, Buzzards were getting their driving game going and looked the most likely to score.
However it was with five minutes left that a series of incidents that were to change the game began. Buzzard had secured ball from the scrum in their own 22 – as the ball was about to be passed, the referee ducked out of the way and, in doing so, failed to spot the most obvious offside. Fly half Lee Walker was caught, the turnover ball was spread wide and the visitors scored in the corner. With the speed of the movement the referee was some way from the touchdown and took considerable time and a conversation with the touch judge before awarding the try. The try was brilliantly converted -so from being in a position to clear the ball and preserve their lead Buzzards were unluckily behind 18-22.
With time running out Buzzards camped in the opposition 22. Penalty after penalty was conceded by Market Rasen – the visitors knowing that a penalty kick would not help Buzzards –and a legitimate claim for a penalty try was ignored when a quick tap penalty was illegally stopped by defenders who had not retreated.
Ultimately the visitors defence held firm and Buzzard, disappointingly had to settle for a losing bonus point. Whilst undoubtedly crucial 50-50 decisions went against them in the final five minutes, Buzzards should reflect that their poor first twenty minutes had ultimately cost them the game. Buzzards remain 10th at the halfway point of the league season and next travel away to league leaders Newbold.