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Buzzards fall at Thurrock


Leighton Buzzard’s poor away record in London 1 (North) league continued with defeat
to Thurrock. As both clubs had five league wins prior to the game, and the teams had
drawn the reverse fixture earlier in the season, a closer match was anticipated.
However, it was the home side who kept to their straightforward game plan and made
better use of the strong wind. Once again, Leighton were unlucky with injuries including
right at the start of the game.

Thurrock kicked off into a strong wind. The kick was gathered by Ryan Eaton who was
clattered into with a clash of heads causing the Buzzard second row to leave the field
with an apparent concussion and unable to play any further part. The referee awarded a
penalty but decided that was enough sanction.

Following this unfortunate start, the home side built early pressure and worked through
several phases before their fly-half carved through to score under the posts. With the
straightforward conversion, Thurrock led 7-0 after only five minutes.
Buzzards had a chance to cut the deficit with a penalty straight from the re-start, but
James Brett’s attempt drifted wide. However, it only took four minutes for Buzzards to
level the scores – winger Julian Gallie pouncing on a loose ball and sprinting to score.
James Brett’s conversion leveled the score at 7 -7.

Shortly after the Buzzard try, a Thurrock second row was shown a yellow card but
unfortunately, Leighton were unable to benefit in the ten-minute period of a numerical
advantage. The home side was settling in their game plan– straight running and crash
balls – whilst there was little finesse, it was to prove very effective. When Leighton did
have possession, they failed to take advantage of the wind, possibly guilty of trying to
play too much rugby in their own half.

After twenty- six minutes, Thurrock added to their lead with a second try to make the
score 14-7. Five minutes later there was a second yellow card for a cynically late tackle
on Buzzard fly-half Ollie Taylor. James Brett kicked the resulting penalty to reduce the
deficit to 14-10. Despite the numerical advantage, the half-finished poorly for Leighton
conceding a penalty and then an unconverted try to make the half-time score 22-10.
The second half started well with a break by Will Batchelor from a lineout. However,
when possession was lost, the home side used the wind to kick long. It was from one of
these long kicks after five minutes that Thurrock scored their fourth try, which with the
conversion made the score 29-10.

The next twenty minutes followed the same pattern. Buzzards did make breaks with
Will Batchelor, who was playing out of position in the second row, and Matt Bloxham
prominent but realistically did not threaten the home try-line. Further injuries
hampered Leighton –Felix Fiske had come off at half-time, resulting in back-row
forward, Calvin Maddock moving to the wing.

Increasingly the Thurrock pack were dominating- pushing one maul fully thirty metres,
and eventually, their power play told with tries in the twenty-eight and thirty-second
minutes giving them a 39-10 lead.

Buzzards’ bad luck had one final twist with the lastplay of the game – Ash Walsh breaking his collarbone as a promising Leighton attack
suddenly turned into a break-away try for the home side to make the final score 44-10.

Buzzards have a week off from league action before welcoming Amersham and Chiltern
to Wrights Meadow in two weeks.