LEIGHTON BUZZARD 22 – 17 NORTHAMPTON OLD SCOUTS
Leighton Buzzard made a winning start to their Midlands East 2 (South) campaign beating a competitive and well- organised Northampton Old Scouts team. With both teams having been relegated last season, a competitive match was anticipated and so it proved. Despite holding the lead from just after midway in the first half, Buzzards were unable to pull away decisively from doughty opponents.
Having lost the toss, Buzzards kicked off with the benefit of the slope in warm sunny conditions. There was a palpable sense of optimism in the sizeable crowd, helped by the return to the playing ranks of Euan Irwin, Arran Perry, Wills Messum and Zac Tift to add skill and experience to Leighton’s youthful first team .
Leighton started well, camping in the Old Scouts half with the scrum dominant in set play, with new prop Russell Orr Burns looking solid at loose-head. The lineout was also functioning well with Dami Adebayo dominant and the returning Wills Messum regularly stealing Old Scouts ball.
Buzzards almost opened the scoring after fourteen minutes. As he did frequently during the match, the original thrust was made by Man of the Match, Adam Stacey. The ball was then transferred through the hands to Arran Perry who was tackled just short. Shortly after this Old Scouts had possession in the Buzzard half for the first time – and a break by their right winger showed they had a genuine attacking threat to add to their solid defence.
Buzzards finally opened the scoring after 27 minutes. An excellent break by Captain Jack Whitehouse was stopped illegally and James Brett kicked the penalty to give Buzzards a 3-0 lead. Five minutes later it appeared that Buzzards had extended their lead. Will Messum pounced on a charge down and whilst he was tackled, managed to ground the ball. However the referee was unsighted, so disallowed the score – although the facial expressions on the Old Scouts players and supporters nearby , was clear evidence of their good fortune.
Just as it seemed it would be a half of missed opportunities and, with the last play of the half, Euan Irwin made the initial break and passed to his centre partner Arran Perry, who scored in the corner. The difficult conversion was missed leaving the half-time score 8-0.
Now playing downhill, Old Scouts made a good start to the second half and within three minutes had crossed the Buzzard line but were held up. However the pressure was maintained and, after six minutes, drove over following a line-out to make the score 8-5. Leighton responded quickly – a well- judged kick through by Jack Whitehouse bounced kindly for winger Eddie Wiggins to re-gather , sidestep the wrong-footed defence and score under the posts. James Brett’s conversion meant Buzzards led 15-5 with thirty minutes left.
Much of the next fifteen minutes was evenly fought in midfield with Old Scouts competitive in the forwards and offering a continual threat from their speedy backs. However it was Buzzards who extended their lead – Ollie Gronert and Jack Whitehouse combined well and hooker Jacob Murtagh arrived with speed and an excellent running line to score close to the posts. James Brett converted to place Buzzards 22-5 ahead.
Perhaps Leighton relaxed, although that may be unfair on a spirited Old Scouts team who dominated the last ten minutes. During this period they scored two further tries, one with the last play of the game to leave the final score 22-17. The visitors never quite threatened to win the match but this was a match between two fine and slightly match-rusty sides. Buzzards will be pleased with the win but will want to bring their dangerous backs more into the game as the season develops.
Next week Buzzards are away to Warwickshire based Southam in the cup before returning to league action away at St. Ives the following week.