NORTHAMPTON CASUALS 7-76 LEIGHTON BUZZARD
Leighton Buzzard extended their lead at the top of Midlands 2 East (South) league with a comprehensive victory at mid-table Northampton Casuals. With eleven different players on the score sheet, this was an impressive team performance. The pack was dominant throughout and Buzzards played with a speed of thought and awareness of space that a plucky Casuals team had no answers to.
Having won the toss, the home side chose to play with the gusty wind. Immediately Buzzards were on the attack and, through good handling, Jack Whitehouse crossed for the first try after only three minutes to make the score 0-5. A penalty for crossing as Buzzards tried to run the ball from deep put them under a rare period of pressure. After attempts to drive their pack over the line, Casuals spread the ball and with a well worked move in the backs scored under the posts. With the conversion a formality, the home side took an unlikely 7-5 lead.
However this lead was to last only three minutes as winger James Pratt sprinted from inside his own half to score a fine individual try. Ewan Starling’s conversion made the score 7-12. With the confidence following last week’s fine win at Bugbrooke, Leighton were now playing with ambition although, on more than a couple of occasions, handling errors let them down.
However in the second quarter of the game, Buzzards stepped up a gear. Danny Snowden scored Buzzards’ third try after twenty two minutes after many phases of play had stretched the home defence. With the scrum now dominant, Jacob Murtagh scored six minutes later and shortly afterwards good team play, following a spectacular Harri Sayer break, gave Euan Irwin the try-scoring pass. With Ewan Starling converting two of these three tries, Buzzards had secured both a 7-29 half time lead and a bonus point.
By the start of the second half the wind had dropped slightly but there was no let-up in Leighton’s intensity. With the pressure being exerted by the pack, no.8 Zak Tift scored a push over try after only four minutes and, shortly afterwards, prop Kristian Hastings added a further score. Ewan Starling converted both for a 7-43 lead.
In a fifteen minute period between the twenty-first and thirty-sixth minutes Buzzards scored five further tries. Firstly good play in the backs gave replacement Ollie Taylor his first try and shortly after a break from Leighton’s twenty-two ended with Harri Sayer scoring. In quick succession Jack Whitehouse and Ollie Taylor scored their second tries and veteran replacement Dan Baroux scored the final try. With Starling converting four of these tries, the full time score was 7-76.
For the second week running this was a very impressive away performance. The pack was dominant at both scrum and line-out, the backs looked quick and dangerous and the whole side was committed to playing a quick, dynamic game.
Next week Buzzards welcome third-placed Leicester Forest to Wright’s Meadow. With the second and fourth placed sides also playing each other it could be a decisive week in the league.