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In a game of two halves, Leighton Buzzard, slipped to a heavy defeat to the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC). Following a well-contested first-half which finished with Buzzards feeling unlucky to be ten points down, they were blown away after the break by a very impressive performance from first-time visitors, HAC.


Buzzards kicked off uphill and the opening minutes were competitive and mostly in midfield. It was seven minutes before either try line was threatened, with the visitors squandering a good overlap opportunity. However, this was at the beginning of a brief period of pressure from HAC which led to their first try in the corner. With the difficult conversion missed, Leighton trailed 0-5.


With the forwards competing well, Buzzards had their own period of pressure. A long penalty attempt from Jack Cullen drifted wide after thirteen minutes and Felix Fiske was just short of the line four minutes later. The pressure on the HAC line resulted in several penalties, and a yellow card for repeat offences was shown after eighteen minutes to the visitors. Buzzards’ efforts to benefit from the resulting brief numerical superiority were handicapped by injuries to Felix Fiske and Callum Creber, both of whom had started the match impressively.


Whilst possession and territory were evenly shared, the visitors’ backs did offer an additional threat and added to the score with a second try after twenty-six minutes to lead 0-10. Once again Leighton responded and, late in the half, came close to scoring through a fine move with Jacob Dove to the fore. The half ended with consistent Buzzard pressure leading to another HAC yellow card for repeat offences in the red zone and another try-scoring opportunity slipping away as the final pass went awry. This left the half-time score 0-10.


Buzzards started the second half hoping they could use the slope to their advantage, but it was HAC who upped their game. The visitors’ game management and ball retention meant that the vast majority of the half was played in Buzzard territory, with Leighton hardly entering the visitors twenty-two.


The visitors’ backs had looked threatening at times but now suddenly found a sharpness and accuracy to rapidly take the game away from Leighton. Their third try, thirteen minutes into the second half, was the best of the day. The right winger showed real pace from his own half and good supporting play led to a spectacular try in the corner which, with the conversion, made the score 0-17.


Now with increased confidence, and monopolising possession and territory, the last quarter of the game became increasingly one-sided. Amazingly, after a tight first-half, the visitors scored five tries in the last twenty minutes, the last from a move covering the length of the pitch. With four of these five tries converted, the visitors reached 50 points.


Buzzards, who have been unlucky with injuries to key players and a run of fixtures against the top 4 sides in the league, now have a week off before travelling to play Marlow in a fortnight’s time.