LEIGHTON BUZZARD 10 – 41 BELSIZE PARK
Leighton Buzzard slipped to another defeat in their latest league game at home to Belsize Park. Despite holding the lead briefly in the first half, this was a more lacklustre performance than recent games and leaves Buzzards bottom of Regional 2 Thames league.
Belsize Park kicked off uphill in damp conditions. They took only three minutes to take the lead from a driving maul following a lineout. With the difficult conversion missed, the visitors led 0-5. Five minutes later Buzzards struck back. With the scrum looking in control, there was a succession of scrums driving close to the visitors’ line. As the Buzzard pack drove towards the line, Belsize Park could only stop the momentum illegally, so the referee awarded a penalty try to put Leighton 7-5 ahead.
A fine individual try, assisted by some poor tackling, restored the visitors’ lead after fifteen minutes and, ten minutes later, Belsize Park drove over for their third try. With both these tries converted, Buzzards trailed 7 -19. Despite Buzzards conceding three tries, much of the first half was concentrated in midfield. However, numerous penalties, poor handling and a succession of yellow cards gave the game a disjointed feel. Whilst the Buzzard pack was scrummaging well there appeared to be a lack of intensity in the loose with the notable exceptions of Ashley Walsh and Wills Messum. Leighton did reduce the deficit to 19-10 with a Jack Cullen penalty after thirty minutes, which was how it remained until half time.
With the second half restart kick going straight into touch, Buzzards were immediately under pressure. However, the defence held firm but Leighton were struggling to break out of their half, with the pack less dominant in the scrum, the lineout misfiring and lacking a cutting-edge in the backs. Having been camped in the Buzzard twenty-two for fifteen minutes, the visitors finally extended their lead to 10-24 with their fourth try. Two further tries were added in quick succession midway through the half, the second with a well-judged kick and chase. With one of these second half tries converted, Leighton trailed 10-36.
Rather late in the day, Buzzards rallied and in the last ten minutes played with a spirit and determination that had appeared lacking for much of the match. Despite this increased ambition, the visitors’ line was rarely threatened. With the last play of the game, Buzzards lost the ball at their own lineout and Belsize Park showed speed and good handling to score a final try in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed leaving the final score 10-41.
After a break next weekend, Buzzards travel to West London based Grasshoppers in a fortnight.