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Leighton Buzzard were beaten by an impressive Brentwood side in their latest London 1 (North) League fixture. The Buzzards gave the home crowd something to cheer with an excellent second-half performance – but sadly the game had, in effect, already been lost by conceding five tries in the first half.

Buzzards kicked off downhill but against the crosswind. The early exchanges were evenly contested in midfield but after six minutes, and with their first attack, the visitors scored. With the conversion successful, Buzzards trailed 0-7. Leighton were having difficulty securing their own line out ball and when they lost their third throw, Brentwood spread the ball wide, leading to their second try. This was in the middle of a purple-patch for the visitors. With a combination of good driving rugby, ball retention and clinical finishing, a third try was scored four minutes later. In a period of less than ten minutes the visitors had scored three converted tries to lead 0-21.

Leighton managed to get on the scoreboard just over half-way through the half. A combination of a clever chip ahead and then good hands gave Tom Winch the opportunity to score in the corner. Ewan Starling converted from the touchline, making the score 7-21.

Brentwood added a fourth, unconverted try after half-an-hour but once again Buzzards rallied. Tom Winch, who looked dangerous all afternoon, came off his wing and chose a splendid angle to cut through the Brentwood defence untouched. Again, Ewan Starling converted, so Buzzards trailed 14-26. Then, with the final play of the half, Brentwood added a fifth try. Amazingly seven tries had been scored in an action-packed first half with Buzzards second best – trailing 14-33.

Buzzards were now playing up-hill but with the marginal benefit of the crosswind. With Leighton tightening up their defence and continuing to play with enterprise the game became more even. Eight minutes into the second half and after a splendid move involving numerous players, Buzzards came very close to scoring. A last-ditch tackle on captain Jacob Murtagh, dislodged the ball forward and the opportunity was missed.

Brentwood continued to have opportunities with their excellent support-play being a feature of their game. However, with the Buzzard defence now holding firm and creating opportunities of their own, the match had a much more competitive feel. In fact, it was Leighton who came closest to adding to their score. An excellent move, initiated by Ollie Taylor, ended with Dan Chalmers being held up over the try line. With less than ten minutes to go, Buzzards once again came close- an excellent kick under the new 50-22 law gave Buzzards a lineout deep into the visitors twenty-two. Despite pressure, the Brentwood defence held firm.

Amazingly after the first-half try fest, the second period was pointless, leaving the final score 14-33. After a disappointing first half, Buzzards can take encouragement from their second half performance showing they can be competitive against a good side and create opportunities.

Buzzards finish 2021 with two away games – against Cambridge based Shelford next week and then Old Haberdashers the following Saturday.