Belgrave 39 - Old Laurentians 31
Report by Bill Wallis
It was the power of the Belgrave pack in set pieces that was the undoing of OLs in this match as they fell to their first league defeat since the opening day of the season, but they did maintain their record of securing a try bonus point in every game so far.
It looked good for OLs when they turned round with a lead at half time before adding to that early in the second half with a try to go 24-13 ahead. But Belgrave resorted to a very effective forward based game in the last quarter, wresting the initiative from OLs when they heaved them all over the park in the tight and went over for four second half tries.
Belgrave struck early on when a hopeful downfield punt was followed up hard by Crumbie who took advantage of a good bounce to go over, Curtis converting from the touchline. Curtis then kicked a penalty for his side to go 10-0 up, but this scoreline was very much against the run of play, which was largely in Belgrave’s half.
Retaining possession well, OLs went through the phases to test the home defence and it was Dom Hammond who made the breakthrough, running strongly from the 22 to go over, Sam White converting his try. White then added a penalty to bring his side level at 10-10, before Curtis responded with a successful kick to restore Belgrave’s lead at 13-10 after 30 minutes play.
But OLs were dominant through this period, attacking from all angles but too frequently taking the ball into contact in midfield and failing to take advantage of the pace they had on the wings. Two straightforward penalty attempts forced by this pressure were missed before full back Tom Waterkeyn made the breakthrough, running strongly to score from 30 metres out to touch down as half time approached.
Jon Bean had just come off the bench, making a welcome return to 1st XV action after a long injury lay off, and he converted Waterkeyn’s try to give OLs a 17-13 lead at half time, a score which barely reflected their dominance for most of the first 40.
Early in the second half, wing Luke Townsend demonstrated vividly what OLs had missed by not bringing him into play earlier when he seized on a loose ball in his own half and sheer pace took him through Belgrave’s defence to score an outstanding try, Bean converted and OLs had a handy 24-13 lead.
From this point the complexion of the game changed dramatically as Belgrave started to play almost entirely through their big pack, using their dominance in set scrums to pressure OLs and force an endless series of penalties. On just about every Belgrave put in at scrums over the next 25 minutes, the referee found a reason to penalise OLs and, not surprisingly, the home side declined to kick but opted for a further scrum in most cases to build the pressure further.
OLs cause was not helped by 2 yellow cards, one of which was a second such card and an automatic red card followed so they were reduced to 13 men for ten minutes. The outcome was that Belgrave scored 4 tries in this period, one of them, almost predictably, a penalty try. Three were converted and they had added 26 points in 20 minutes.
At the very end OLs won quick possession, it was moved swiftly away and once more Luke Townsend ran superbly for his second try, Bean’s conversion bringing up the final score and the curtain down on a chastening result for the visitors.
This Saturday, OLs welcome near neighbours Long Buckby to Fenley Field for what will be the first ever league meeting between the clubs. Newly promoted from Midlands 3, Buckby hoisted themselves up to 8th place with a good win over Oakham last Saturday and will be going all out to lower OL’s colours, so it will certainly not be a straightforward return to winning ways for the home side.
Tom Waterkeyn, Jordan Bunn, Ben Scott Troy Owen, Luke Townsend, Ben Roach, Sam White, Chris le Poidevin, Dom Hammond, John Barratt, Ben Anderson, James Harris, James Orbinson, Charlie Seager(Capt), Andrew Orbinson
Replacements (all used):
Jon Bean, Mark Todd Paul Lewis.
Tries: Luke Townsend (2), Dom Hammond, Tom Waterkeyn
Conversions: White, Bean (3)
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