SHELFORD 69 – 12 LEIGHTON BUZZARD
Leighton Buzzard’s final away match of the London 1(N) season was to league leaders Shelford. It was clear from the start why the home team would be crowned Champions later in the afternoon with a scintillating display of running rugby. Shelford played at a pace and with a clarity of purpose unrivalled in this league. Despite the final score, Leighton can be proud of their efforts. Led by Captain, Jacob Murtagh, who had one of his finest games for the club, Buzzard competed to the end, scored two fine tries and played a significant part in an entertaining game, that was much appreciated by a large home crowd.
The match was played in dry conditions on an artificial pitch with Buzzards playing into the wind in the first half. Whilst the early play was in the Buzzard half, Leighton resisted the initial pressure well. Finally, after nine minutes, the speed of both the ball transfer and the home backs split the Buzzard defence to score in the corner. Four minutes later, a second try was added when the Buzzard defence was cut open from deep, following a loose kick. With both tries converted Leighton trailed 14-0, which was extended to 21-0 mid way through the half after a quick tap penalty led to a third try.
Despite the score Buzzards were continuing to compete, and the Leighton pack was looking very solid to the extent that one scrum was won against the head. The lineout was also much improved from recent weeks. Despite a good period of possession, there was always the concern that any lost ball would quickly be turned into a threat by the home team’s razor-sharp attack. With a touch of inevitability, possession lost deep in the home territory was quickly kicked long and then spread wide at speed for the fourth try. Worse was to follow – straight from restart, Shelford put together a display of speed and slick handling to add a further try. With the last play of the half Shelford pounced on a loose lineout for a soft try. With only one conversion missed, Shelford led 40-0.
Despite conceding an early interception try to the home side’s lightening quick left winger, the second half started well for Buzzards with an extended period of possession. A possible kick at goal was declined as Buzzards kicked for the corner. Mike Robert came close to scoring but when the ball was recycled, Jacob Murtagh scored in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed, but with seven minutes of the half played, Buzzards trailed 45-5.
Eight minutes later, Leighton scored again. Once again turning down a very kickable penalty, Buzzards chose a scrum. As the pack drove forward, the Shelford scrum appeared to split, to the extent that a penalty try was a realistic option. However, Will Batchelor, who with Joe Healy has given a real solidity to the front row, drove over. Ollie Taylor converted to make the score 45-12.
However well Buzzard tackled, the threat of the home team backs was ever present – they added two excellent tries from their own half in the twenty-third and twenty-ninth minutes to lead 55-12. Buzzards continued to show great resolve but conceded two late tries as they tired from their herculean effort to leave the final score 69-12.
Leighton left the pitch with their heads held high knowing they had been beaten by an excellent side at the top of their game.
After a blank weekend for Easter, Buzzards play their final league game of the season at home to Belsize Park on April 23rd, 3pm Kick Off. Prior to match Leighton Ladies will be playing Belsize Park Ladies from 1pm. All welcome