Sat 7 Apr 2018

Old Laurentians RFC
Luton RFC
Midlands 2 East (South)

Old Laurentians 0 – Luton 28

Report by Bill Wallis

OL’s chances of making 2nd place and the promotion play-off were just about alive before this game but were killed off comprehensively by a Luton side who are now firm favourites to take that position. Not a good time to lose to Luton for the first time in four games over two seasons, but the visitors were comfortably the better side on the day.

OLs were largely the architects of their own downfall, presenting two crucial scoring opportunities to their opponents, gratefully taken, one in added time at the end of the first half and again in the last play of the game at its end.

Several changes of personnel from the selected XV certainly didn’t help their cause; and Troy Owen, critical to both the team’s defensive and attacking game, missed just his second game of the season after being sidelined by a concussion suffered in the last game.

OLs started brightly enough and were attacking with some purpose when they conceded a penalty, a fault they were to repeat too often for comfort. On their first foray into OL’s 22, Luton scored a simple try after ten minutes when their scrum half sniped around the fringes of an attacking scrum and strolled over. The next score didn’t arrive until the 35th minute, when the visitors converted a penalty for 8-0.

Then a killer blow was delivered as the first half went to added time and after OLs won a scrum deep in their 22. A clearance to touch would have heralded the referee’s whistle for half time, but instead a hopeful long punt downfield was fielded by Luton’s full back, who, with acres of space in front of him, took full advantage to run the ball back and set up an attack that finished with a try in the corner.

Instead of turning round just 0-8 down, OLs were now 13 points adrift, but still in the game as the second half got under way. The first score after the break was going to be crucial and it fell to Luton. A late tackle on a Luton player after he had kicked infield on half way brought a penalty where the ball landed, duly put over from 35 metres out to increase the deficit to 0-16.

Now with tails up, Luton took charge of the game, running straight and hard with their passing and offloading game testing OL’s defence to the full. This was in stark contrast to OLs who, although enjoying a decent share of possession, struggled to put together any coherent attacking play, too often taking the wrong option or let down by indifferent handling and, as a result, failed to take advantage of the pace they have on the wings.

With 20 minutes gone, Luton breached OLs defence down the left flank to score in the corner, a well struck conversion lifting their lead to 23-0. That did provoke a late flurry by OLs but their cause was not helped by suffering two yellow cards, with one to their opponents.

The home side did work their way into Luton’s 22 and had a lineout following a penalty. The ball was won but not controlled, Luton were quick to turn it over and broke away to score in the right- hand corner, again exposing some flimsy defence. The score brought up Luton’s try bonus and the whistle for full time.

For OLs, the back row of the Orbinson brothers and Charlie Seager put in a massive shift to try and get their team going forward and in defence. But probably the most welcome sight was the appearance from the bench in the second half of Ash Moore, his first action for the senior team after a long injury lay off dating back to last November and immediately making an impact with some strong carries.

Just like last season, this one has fizzled out in a disappointing end after promising much. But OLs could still finish in 3rd spot by winning their last two games. This Saturday they travel to take on Market Bosworth and finish the season when entertaining the side currently occupying 3rd place, Market Harborough, the following week.

Team:
Robbie Bunn, Luke Townsend, Richard Parker, Sam White Luke Townsend; Ben Roach, James Collins; Olly Cowley, Dom Hammond, Ray Smith, Ben Anderson, James Harris, Charlie Seager (capt.), James Orbinson, Andrew Orbinson.

Replacements (all used):
Chris le Poidevin, Ash Moore, Luke Billyeald



Clonmell Cup – Semi-Final

Old Laurentian 2nd XV 8 – Southam 2nd XV 15

Report by David Middleton

OL'S CUP DREAMS END

OL’s cup aspirations were ended by a Southam side who converted their chances and defended as well as any side OLs have faced this season.

OLs went into this semi -final bereft of a couple of first choice players but with what they believed to be enough firepower to see them through. In truth it was the visitors who looked the sharper with the ball in hand and in a contest that was always going to be a tense affair it came down to who took their chances.
OLs started the game much the stronger of the two sides and for the opening quarter Southam hardly touched the ball but unfortunately for the Fenley men they failed to put any points on the board for all their territory and possession.

In virtually their first foray into OL's half Southam opened the scoring with a well taken try in the corner and with the conversion missing the half ended with the visitors narrowly in front.

The second half began as the first had ended with the visitors crossing in the corner for their second try of the game, again the conversion missed but they had a 10 point lead and real self-belief.

OLs to their credit refused to lie down and led by skipper Nick Martin they threw everything they had at Southam, and were rewarded for their efforts when Willie Thorne put over a penalty.

As the game entered the final quarter the ball was worked wide to Mad Jonny Martin who headed for the corner and when he was held up the forwards were on hand to drive over the line Hammond claiming the try. The conversion fell agonizingly short but at 10 -8 it was all to play for.

Ol's now had their tails up and laid siege to the Southam line but the visitors defence was simply outstanding, one try saving double tackle on Thorne in particular catching the eye.

OLs had given everything but their usual fluency let them down with knock ons or turnovers ending the majority of their attacks; and from one such error the Southam wing raced half the length of the field to score his sides third and final try and break OL’s hearts.

This was a bitterly disappointing result for OLs but nothing should be taken away from Southam who were worthy winners. Rugby is a simple game and if you don't take your chances you don't win - Southam took theirs and OLs didn't and we wish them the very best of luck in the final.

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