HAPPY HOOKERS HAT TRICK EXTENDS BUZZARDS LEAGUE LEAD
STEWART & LLOYDS 7-36 LEIGHTON BUZZARD
Leighton Buzzard secured another bonus point victory to extend their lead to six points at the top of Midlands 2 East (South) league. Whilst Stewart & Lloyds are the league’s bottom side, they were extremely motivated and encouraged by a vociferous crowd and bench, they were clearly intent on giving Buzzards an uncomfortable afternoon. Despite a difficult start and frequent provocation, Buzzards kept their cool and stuck to their game plan. Whilst there were fine performances throughout the team, hooker Ashley Walsh in particular, had a day to remember, scoring three of Buzzards five tries.
A major factor in the game was the strong wind that blew downhill all afternoon. Leighton captain, Jack Whitehouse, won the toss and chose to play against the elements in the first half. Straight from the kick off, Buzzards were pinned in their twenty-two. It took only three minutes for the home side to open the scoring from a driving maul after a 5 metre lineout and, with the successful conversion, Buzzards trailed 7-0.
Slowly but steadily Leighton worked their way back into the match with increased possession, but with kicking against the wind not an option and handling conditions difficult, Buzzards needed to remain patient. However the scrum was looking rock-solid with prop Kieran Turney having one of his best games in the tight. After sixteen minutes a promising break by coach Tom Mowbray, who was making a rare playing appearance, came to nothing.
It took almost half-an-hour for Buzzards to score-after many phases Matt Bloxham was put almost clear in the corner, but when he was tackled passed inside to rampaging hooker, Ash Walsh to score. The difficult conversion was narrowly missed leaving Buzzards trailing 7-5. As half-time approached the pressure being applied by the Leighton forwards was beginning to tell and Stewart & Lloyds were conceding numerous penalties. Finally, with the last play of the half, Jack Whitehouse dived over and Ewan Starling expertly converted to put Buzzards 7-12 ahead.
Now playing with the wind and slope, Buzzards started the second-half confidently and the majority of the play was in the home side’s twenty-two. It says much for Stewart & Lloyds defence that, after ten minutes of the half, Buzzards choose to take three points from a Ewan Starling penalty to extend the lead to 7-15.
Half-way through the half Leighton extended their lead . An excellent kick by fly –half Starling, who was kicking beautifully both from hand and tee, resulted in a Stewart & Lloyds lineout, five metres out. Ash Walsh secured a turnover in the resulting maul and twisted over and, with Starling’s conversion, Buzzards led 7-22. Six minutes later the same combination worked again as Walsh drove over and Starling converted.
Leighton’s fifth try owed more to individual skill than team work. A home side cross field kick had been caught by wing Eddie Wiggins – skillfully jinking past his opposite number, he sprinted fully sixty metres to score. Again Starling converted. There were no further scores in the remaining minutes, to leave Buzzards victorious at 7-36.
Next week Buzzards welcome Newark to Wrights Meadow in the semi-final of the Intermediate cup, kick off 2pm