Sun 10 Dec 2017 17:52

Sat 9 Dec 2017

Luton RFC
Old Laurentians RFC
Midlands 2 East (S)

Luton 24 - Old Laurentians 34

Report by Bill Wallis

In a stunning turnaround from their dismal performance against Long Buckby a week earlier, OLs travelled to Luton to put on a vastly improved showing that saw them inflict on the home side just their second defeat of the season, their only other reversal having come at the hands of league leaders Oadby Wyggestonians.

Encouraged by Head Coach Andy Milner to express themselves and go for it, shaking off the inhibitions that characterised the previous week’s performance, his team did just that. The game was effectively won by half time, OLs turning round with a 22-5 lead and although Luton fought back well in the second half, OLs kept their composure to run out comfortable winners.

After Jon Bean had opened OL’s account with a penalty, Ben Roach took advantage of quick lineout possession to waft through midfield and deliver a scoring pass to Andrew Orbinson who touched down near the posts, Bean converting for a 10-0 lead after 17 minutes.

After Luke Townsend had set up the move with a run against the grain going left, Bean fed lock forward Ben Anderson who went over near the posts, Bean adding the goal points for a 17-0 lead after 25 minutes. Luton struck back soon after when a quickly taken penalty set up a try, but the conversion was missed and their deficit was cut to 17-5.

Not to be outdone by his second row partner Anderson, Chris le Poidevin was next to cross for OLs, breaking off from the back of a driving maul to barrel over. The conversion was missed but OLs were 22-5 ahead as half time arrived.

OLs suffered a blow when fly half Jon Bean was forced off after suffering a couple of knocks in just his second match back after a long injury layoff, Harry Powell coming on and Ben Roach moving into 10.

Early in the second half, a gilt-edged scoring opportunity went begging when a two man overlap was ignored and the move broke down. But the referee awarded a penalty to OLs some 20 metres out, the ball was moved initially to the narrow side then quickly moved open and Dom Hammond cut a fine running line to carve through and touch down to lift his side to a 27-5 lead, and the try bonus point, after 15 minutes.

Luton mounted a spirited comeback in the final quarter and pegged OLs back with two well taken tries, the first was converted and the scoreline now read 27-17 to OLs but the home side were still 2 scores behind.

Luke Townsend was unlucky not to add to the score when he kicked ahead into space down the right wing and was tackled after the kick had gone, unseen by the referee. He got up after the tackle and reached the Luton defender who gathered the ball, but without the illegal tackle most people would have backed him to score, such is his pace.

Then the game was put out of Luton’s reach when full back Jordan Bunn intercepted an optimistic pass on halfway and outpaced the covering defenders to score under the posts, Roach converting to lift the score to 34-17.

Once more Luton hit back and secured their own try bonus in the dying minutes, the try converted for the last score of the game.

It had been a fine all-round performance from OLs against a side who demonstrated their pedigree in their second half play. The pack won a good supply of quick, clean ball from all phases, giving scrum half Sam White the space and time he needed to get his backs away.

Veteran prop Ray Smith played the whole eighty in his first start of the season and was the cornerstone of the scrummaging effort; and the back row of the Orbinson brothers and Dom Hammond, the latter moving back from hooker in the absence of injured skipper Charlie Seager, stifled at birth the efforts of the Luton back row to get a driving game going.

Troy Owen and Ben Roach ran hard and straight in the centre and Ben Scott put in his usual hard running, strong tackling shift when moving in from the wing after Jon Bean’s departure.

Luton were generous and welcoming hosts at their fine Newlands Road ground and a strong friendship is developing between the two clubs. But OLs are becoming a bit of a bogey side for them as this was the 3rd win in 3 encounters since the clubs met for the first time last season following a period of some years since their previous meetings.

OL’s stay in 4th place after this win, but with the gap to Luton in 3rd now narrowed to 2 points. They will complete the first half of their season when they entertain Market Bosworth at Fenley Field this Saturday, their opponents enjoying a decent season and just 2 places, and six points, behind OLs in the league.

Jordan Bunn, Ben Scott, Troy Owen (capt.), Ben Roach, Luke Townsend; Jon Bean, Sam White; Ray Smith, John Barratt, Mark Todd, Ben Anderson, Chris le Poidevin, James Orbinson, Dom Hammond, Andrew Orbinson

Replacements (all used):
Harry Powell, Jordi Pocknell, Paul Lewis.

Tries: Andrew Orbinson, Ben Anderson, Chris le Poidevin, Dom Hammond, Jordan Bunn
Conversions: Jon Bean (2), Ben Roach
Penalty: Jon Bean