BUZZARDS RELEGATION FEARS EASED WITH DRAMATIC VICTORY
LEIGHTON BUZZARD 13 – 12 OLD NORTHAMPTONIANS
Leighton Buzzard eased their relegation fears with victory over fifth-placed Old Northamptonians (ON’s) in one of the most exciting but nervy matches seen at Wright’s Meadow in recent years. In the dramatic denouement, the visitors missed a conversion from in front of the posts with four minutes left and again with a straightforward penalty with the last kick of the game – to give Buzzards the narrowest of victories.
On a warm and sunny afternoon, ON’s kicked off with the benefit of the slope but Buzzards were to make a dream start – with only three minutes played, Euan Irwin’s perfectly weighted kick allowed Darren Braybrook to touch down in the corner. Ollie Taylor converted from the touchline to give Leighton a 7-0 lead. ON’s regained the ball from the kick off to exert pressure on the Buzzard defence but they missed an opportunity to pull back some points when a penalty attempt drifted wide.
In the early stages the Buzzard scrum was under pressure and the lineout misfiring but Leighton continued to look dangerous with ball in hand. With both defences fully committed, try-scoring opportunities were rare but Leighton extended their lead to 13-0 with two Ollie Taylor penalties in the twentieth and twenty-eight minutes. The visitors responded with a converted try after thirty-four minutes following an excellent break in the centre, to cut the Leighton lead to 13-7. ON’s had the Buzzard line under siege in the final minutes of the half. However, brave defence and finally a Jack Whitehouse interception, prevented any additional points to leave the half time score 13-7.
Now with the benefit of the slope, Buzzards tactics were to kick behind the ON’s backs and attempt to pin them back in their half. But ON’s are a fine side as their fifth place in a competitive league suggests. Buzzards almost scored early in the half when Ben Beaumont charged a kick down and was held just short, and also after twenty minutes when Ollie Taylor was unable to grasp a Mike Lynch chip. In between ON’s exerted considerable pressure on the line – twice adjudged to have been held up over the Buzzard line.
With both sides’ defences remaining resolute, over half-an-hour was played without either side adding to the score. Finally the ON pressure told with four minutes left as they crashed through under the posts but, almost unbelievably, missed the conversion to leave the score 13-12. But the drama was not over – Buzzards had the opportunity to play out time but lost their own lineout and then conceded a penalty. With ON’s first choice kicker substituted earlier, the attempted kick drifted wide to the huge relief of the large home crowd.
Leighton’s young team can be proud of their heroic defence against a fine side and move up to tenth. They need one point away at Oundle next Saturday to be absolutely sure of level sixth rugby next season.