LEICESTER FOREST 12 – 28 LEIGHTON BUZZARD
Leighton Buzzard are now four points clear in Midlands 2 East (South) league after a convincing performance away at previous league leaders Leicester Forest. This was a fine team performance based on an excellent performance by the pack, particularly in the scrum, resolute defence and a cutting edge in attack.
The match was played on an artificial 4G Astroturf pitch giving a significant advantage to the home side familiar with the surface. Having lost the toss, Buzzards kicked off in a persistent drizzle and with the slight benefit of a cold crosswind. Playing the only other undefeated side in the league, Leighton were focussed from the start and it took only four minutes to take the lead. Kicking a penalty into the corner, the forwards formed a driving maul with Owen Forsythe touching down. Lee Walker converted to put Buzzards 0-7 ahead.
Inevitably for a team that had won their first five league games, Leicester Forest are a well organised and skilful side and seemed undeterred by their early setback. They crossed the Leighton line after fourteen minutes but were held up, although they managed to touch down after a driving maul three minutes later. With the difficult conversion missed, the score was 5-7.
Buzzards had opportunities to increase their lead – a break from Jack Whitehouse from his own half had stretched the home defence and a penalty mid-way through the half drifted wide. After thirty minutes the pressure told when a set move in the backs put Euan Irwin clear and under the posts. Lee Walker added the conversion – 5-14. Five minutes later Buzzards extended their lead – a cross-field kick by Jack Whitehouse was hacked through by winger Arran Perry, who then won the race to touch down. Lee Walker converted from the touchline to make the score 5-21.
Just when it looked as if Buzzards were taking control, the resilient home team hit back straight away with a forwards’ try, which, with the conversion, made the half-time score 12-21.
The second half proved more attritional although Buzzards had the majority of territory and looked the more likely to score. The front row combination of Russell Orr Burns, Ash Walsh and Jon Henkes was dominant throughout, and Ed Taylor had a splendidly athletic game in the second row. As would be expected from a team with an unbeaten record, Leicester Forest remained competitive throughout – although Buzzards did not look in danger, neither could they pull away. Leighton’s cause was not helped by a yellow card, harshly given to scrum-half James Brett after fifteen minutes, for his over- exuberance when trying to free himself when being illegally held.
Just when it looked as if the second half would be pointless, winger Eddie Wiggins scythed through to score a fine individual try. Ollie Gronert converted to make the score 12-28. This try added a four-try bonus point and realistically ended any chance of the home side gaining a losing bonus point as Leighton played out the last three minutes.
Next week Leighton welcome another Leicester side, Vipers to Wrights Meadow