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TWO BONUS POINTS BUZZARDS’ ONLY REWARD IN TIGHT CONTEST

LEIGHTON BUZZARD 24 – 26 OLNEY

 

Having led for much of the second half, Buzzards narrowly lost their latest league game conceding a decisive try in the last five minutes. With the lead changing hands four times, this was a game either side could have won but ultimately Leighton had to make do with two bonus points.

 

Olney kicked off with the benefit of the slope but into a strong breeze. Buzzards started the stronger and took only five minutes to open the scoring – veteran centre Jack Whitehouse carved through the defence and linked with Mike Robert, who scored near the corner. Ewan Starling converted to put Buzzards 7-0 ahead. Olney responded well and only try-saving tackles by Euan Irwin and then Ben Cullen prevented an immediate reply. However, the visitors equalled the score thirteen minutes, as they drove over in the corner and converted from the touchline.

 

Whilst Buzzard possession was limited, the backs did look threatening with Tom Winch and Jack Whitehouse combining well. Leighton did miss the opportunity to re-take the lead when a Ewan Starling penalty drifted wide after sixteen minutes. It was the visitors who scored next – the Buzzard pack appeared to have disrupted an Olney scrum with their front row standing up. However, the visitors retained possession and, taking advantage of a lapse of concentration in the Buzzard defence, broke clear to score under the posts. With the conversion a formality, Buzzards trailed 7-14.

 

With five minutes left of the half , Buzzards levelled. Scrum-half Jack Cullen took a quick tap penalty in midfield and the recycled ball gave Eddie Wiggins the chance to score by the posts. Ewan Starling’s conversion brought the scores level at 14-14. Shortly after, Leighton looked as if they would take the lead – a driving maul was heading inexorably towards the line when it appeared deliberately collapsed. The referee decided no sanction was required and blew for half-time.

 

The second half could not have started better for Leighton. Securing possession from their kickoff and recycling possession through a couple of phases, the ball was spread wide for Jack Kempster to score in the corner. Only forty-seven seconds had elapsed. The difficult conversion was missed, leaving Leighton 19-14 ahead.

 

Two minutes later, Olney took the lead in controversial circumstances. A mazy run crossed the line but the attacker dropped the ball as he attempted to ground it. The referee, presumably unsighted, gave the try, although the body language of the “try-scorer” and the lack of celebration of his teammates was apparent and telling. The straightforward conversion left Leighton 19-21 behind.

 

Five minutes later, Buzzards re-took the lead. A dominant pack drove a five-metre scrum towards the line, giving Jacob Dove the opportunity to touch down for a 24-21 lead.

 

Much of the remainder of the half was evenly contested. Whilst the Buzzard backs looked threatening, there was a lack of continuity. The scrum continued to perform well but the lineout was a consistent problem. Olney had their opportunities and, with ten minutes lef,t appeared to have taken the lead. Tackled just short, the attacker reached out and placed the ball on the line. To Buzzards good fortune, the referee harshly adjudged this to be a double movement.

 

As the game entered the final five minutes, the pressure was intense on the Leighton line. Whilst they defended well at close quarters, when the ball was spread wide, the line was breached for Olney to score in the corner. The conversion was missed to leave Buzzards trailing 24-26. Olney held for the final three minutes to secure victory.

 

Next week Buzzards welcome Towcestrians to Wrights Meadow.