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BUZZARDS LEAGUE SEASON STARTS WITH HOME DEFEAT

LEIGHTON BUZZARD 3 – 22 KETTERING
Leighton Buzzard started their Regional 2 East Midlands league campaign with a
home defeat to Kettering. With Buzzards match postponed last week, the visitors had
the advantage of already playing league rugby this season, which may have
contributed to their sharper decision-making and execution.
With new captain Owen Forsythe losing the toss, Leighton kicked off with the
advantage of the slope in warm and dry conditions. Buzzards started well, with the
scrum looking dominant and forcing an early penalty, which fly-half, Ewan Starling,
kicked to give Leighton a 3-0 lead. This early scrum dominance resulted in an early
Buzzard attack as they won the ball against the head and broke from close to their
own line to well in the Kettering half.
After their slow start, Kettering were steadily improving – their backs looking
dangerous and their pack becoming more competitive. Leighton were not helped by
a yellow card given to PJ Fraser for a high tackle after fifteen minutes. Whilst under
pressure, Buzzards managed to get through the ten minutes whilst they were down
to fourteen men without conceding. They were perhaps fortunate after eighteen
minutes, when a try-saving tackle by full back Eddie Wiggins, made with very limited
use of the arms, was adjudged legal.

The visitors were now increasing the pressure and after twenty minutes were held up
over the try line. As pressure on the Buzzard line grew, so did the penalty count –
and as a number of these were in the “red zone”, the referee gave yellow cards to
Ryan Eaton after twenty-nine minutes and James Brett one minute later. Now down
to thirteen men, inevitably, the pressure told, and spreading the ball wide Kettering
scored in the corner. With the conversion missed, Buzzards trailed 3-5. However,
despite being two men short, Leighton did have a chance to re-take the lead but a
Ewan Starling penalty drifted wide. Shortly after, and with the last play of the half,
Kettering scored in the corner to make the half-time score 3-10.

Leighton started the second half brightly, with Callum Creber and Matt Bloxham
breaking out from their own half to close to the Kettering line. Initially stopped by a
last-ditch tackle, the ball was recycled but an interception ended the opportunity.
If Buzzards were unable to take their opportunities, the visitors showed a much more
clinical execution. With their lineout showing considerable improvement, Kettering
kicked a penalty to the corner and drove over from the lineout. Twelve minutes later
and midway through the half, they scored an almost identical try. With one of these
tries converted, Buzzards now trailed 3-22. In between these two tries, Buzzards had
opportunities of their own, notably when the race for a touch down was just lost after
a chip through.

The remainder of the half was played competitively in midfield, with tempers flaring
up at times. Then, somewhat bizarrely, the referee clearly having problems with his
timekeeping blew for full time with ten minutes still to go.

Despite the defeat, new Head Coach Phil Llewellyn saw many positives -he
commented “the team showed endeavour and commitment and the defence was
excellent.” He was also with delighted with league debutants Taylor Richardson and
Rhys Betley.

Next week, Buzzards travel to Towcestrians