BELGRAVE 25 – 31 LEIGHTON BUZZARD
Buzzards moved to the top of Midlands 2 East (South) league with this bonus point win. However this was Buzzards’ poorest display of the season, with Leighton finally taking the lead in a scrappy game with only fifteen minutes left.
Leighton kicked off and almost immediately conceded the opening try to Belgrave’s first attack. Whether it was the journey or a number of changes to the team, Buzzards appeared lacklustre and there was little surprise when they conceded a second try after fourteen minutes. Neither try was converted, leaving Buzzards losing 10- 0.
It was seventeen minutes before Buzzards put together a period of attack, although they were unable to score points as a penalty attempt drifted wide. Shortly after both sides went down to fourteen men for ten minutes as Owen Forsyth and the Belgrave hooker were both shown yellow cards after a fracas. Finally, after thirty–three minutes, Buzzards opened their account with the ball going through many hands to put Harri Sayer in space to score by the posts. Eddie Wiggins converted to make the score 10-7. Belgrave responded with a well-worked try but again missed the conversion. Almost immediately good pressure through many phases gave James Brett the opportunity to score Buzzards second try. Again Wiggins converted to leave Buzzards a single point behind at 15-14 at half time.
The Buzzard pack was under pressure from the big Belgrave pack, a situation not helped by an injury to influential number-eight Zak Tift late in the first half. A lost scrum early in the second half gave Belgrave the opportunity to extend their lead to 20-14. Whilst Buzzards were now playing with more spirit and purpose they were struggling to build pressure. This was mostly due to poor ball retention in the loose but also a scrappy lineout and pressure on the scrum.
However with ball Leighton always pose a threat. A fine break by captain Jack Whitehouse led to a Euan Irwin try midway through the half to cut the deficit to one point, 20-19. Five minutes later the cutting edge in the backs was effective as Whitehouse and Irwin again combined to put Harri Sayer in for his second try. Eddie Wiggins’ conversion gave Leighton a 20-26 lead. Belgrave remained competitive and, after a period of pressure on the Buzzard line, their forwards rumbled over to cut the Buzzard lead to a single point, 25-26 with ten minutes left.
Leighton were now playing their best rugby of the match and following an attack of numerous phases and good decision-making, Jack Whitehouse scored Leighton’s fifth try. Buzzards comfortably played out the remaining minute to secure a 25-31 victory.
Leighton will be happy with a bonus point away win against good and motivated opposition. However the defence and ball retention needs to improve and also the habit of starting slowly away from home needs to be broken.
Next week Buzzards welcome Bugbrooke to Wrights Meadow. For a view from Leiceter on the game see this link