1st xv Match Reports 2017-2018

1st xv v Oundle 21st April 2018

BUZZARDS CLEAR OF RELEGATION DESPITE HEAVY DEFEAT

OUNDLE 57-15 LEIGHTON BUZZARD

Leighton Buzzard maintained their level 6 status for a fifth season despite losing heavily away at seventh-placed Oundle. With Bugbrooke losing to second placed Syston, Buzzards avoided the final relegation place to finish eleventh in Midlands 1 East.

On a very warm but cloudy afternoon, captain Mike Lynch won the toss and chose to play against a slight wind. The Buzzards had arrived later than anticipated due to delays caused by a road closure and this may have contributed to Leighton’s sluggish start. After early pressure from the home side, Buzzards’ defence was caught napping as Oundle crashed over from a quickly taken tap penalty after eight minutes. Three minutes later the Oundle right winger scored following a well judged cross-field kick to leave Buzzards trailing 12-0.

Finally Leighton managed a period of possession and territory. A penalty was kicked to the corner and a rolling maul was set up following the resulting lineout. As the Buzzard pack drove forward, Mike Lynch broke away to score Leighton’s first try to make the score 12-5.

Despite this encouragement, the home side backs looked dangerous and a period of five minutes effectively settled the result – firstly their left winger scored a fine try after twenty-three minutes; shortly afterwards Oundle were gifted a try when a loose pass was intercepted and three minutes later they scored again in the left corner. With less than half-an-hour played, Buzzards were losing 31-5.

With the last play of the half, Buzzards scored again – similar to their first try it came from a catch and drive from a lineout with Owen Forsyth touching down to leave the half-time score 31-10.

Prior to the game Leighton had known that if they could gain a four-try bonus point they would be safe without relying on other results. With the game effectively already lost, their ambition was to add a further two tries. However, Oundle are a fine side and with their free running backs enjoying the dry conditions, they showed no signs of easing off. The home side added further tries in the third and fourteenth minutes – the second scored from their own twenty-two as a Buzzard attack was turned-over – making the lead 43-10.

Buzzards had renewed hope when Jacob Murtagh charged down a kick , re-gathered the ball and crossed the line to give Leighton their third try. This made the score 43-15, but more importantly Leighton had almost twenty minutes to score the vital fourth try.

Try as they did, Leighton could not manage to cross the line again – the home side continued to dominate possession and scored further tries after twenty-seven minutes and with the last play of the game, to leave the score 57-15. Shortly afterwards the news came through that Bugbrooke had lost, confirming Buzzards would not be relegated.

Whilst disappointed to have finished eleventh, Leighton have a young team with many players new to league rugby, who will surely continue to improve. Despite poor away form and problems with availability, coach Tom Mowbray has done a splendid job to preserve Buzzards’ level six status with such an inexperienced squad in a very competitive league.