OLD HABERDASHERS 21- 22 LEIGHTON BUZZARD
Leighton Buzzard secured their fourth league victory of the season in dramatic circumstances away at Old Haberdashers. The hosts had led from the eleventh minute until four minutes from time when James Brett’s touchline conversion gave Buzzards the lead for the first time.
Buzzards kicked off into a strong breeze. The early play was mostly in midfield, and it was seven minutes before either side reached the opposition twenty-two. But, with the wind and a strong Old Haberdashers pack, it was Buzzards who were under more pressure. Eleven minutes into the game, a blind side move and a good step from the hosts’ left winger gave them an early lead. With the successful conversion, Leighton trailed 7-0.
With the scrum under pressure and the lineout difficult in windy conditions, Leighton were trying to play a faster game with quick tap penalties. It was from one of these tap penalties that they finally made it to the opposition twenty-two. In contrast Old Haberdashers were keener to rely on their scrum. After thirty minutes and camped in the Buzzard twenty-two, they chose to scrummage rather than kick penalties. With the Leighton scrum under considerable pressure, a further collapse led to the referee awarding a penalty try, making the score 14-0.
Whilst Buzzards had limited possession, the backs looked sharp, with the new centre combination of Lewis Morgan and veteran Euan Irwin, together with full back Ben Beaumont, all prominent. Finally, space was made for winger Eddie Wiggins, who evaded one tackler and took one another defender over the line with him, to score in the corner. The touchline conversion was missed to leave Leighton trailing 14-5.
The home side were now playing with fourteen men as their winger had been shown a yellow card for dissent. Somewhat bizarrely, five minutes later a second yellow card was also given for dissent, this time to Buzzards’ skipper, Jacob Murtagh. The half ended with Buzzards defending well ensuring that the deficit at half-time was only 14-5.
Now with the benefit of the wind Buzzards started the half with confidence and more territory and possession. However, it was Old Haberdashers, who extended their lead to 21-5 with a fine individual try from their centre. Despite this set back, Buzzards were putting increasing pressure on the hosts’ defence. The addition of 47-year-old Gary Low to the front row made the scrummage more solid but the lineout was misfiring in the windy conditions.
Fifteen minutes into the half, Buzzards cut the lead. The initial break came from Lewis Morgan and when the ball was recycled, Euan Irwin cut through the defence to score under the posts. James Brett’s conversion left Leighton trailing 21-12. Brett added a penalty kick a few minutes later to make the score 21-15. Crucially, this meant that, with ten minutes left, a converted try would put Buzzards in the lead.
With four minutes left, the ball was turned over, allowing Euan Irwin to make ground up the touchline. As he was tackled, he managed to offload to his fellow centre, Lewis Morgan, who stretched and make the line as he was tackled. James Brett nervelessly kicked the conversion from the touchline to give Buzzards a 21-22 lead.
Leighton held out for the last four minutes without any late scares to secure a thrilling victory. Buzzards can take credit for their resilience and determination, particularly after they fell 16 points behind early in the second half.
Next week they welcome Southend to Wrights Meadow.