BUZZARDS SNATCH DRAW WITH LAST-MINUTE TRY
LEIGHTON BUZZARD 24- 24 BUGBROOKE
Leighton Buzzard just maintained their unbeaten start to the season, with a try with the last play of game to draw level against Northamptonshire side Bugbrooke, in their latest Midlands 2 East (South) match.
The weather was to play a significant part in the game. With rain throughout, which at times was very heavy, and a strong and squally wind, handling and ball retention was difficult. Whilst this did not suit Buzzards’ preferred fast and mobile game plan, it was also clear that Bugbrooke adapted more quickly to the conditions.
Leighton had won the toss and chosen to play downhill but into the wind in the first half. Immediately there was a misunderstanding in the Buzzard defence following a Bugbrooke kick that landed between the three-quarters and the full back. The ball was hacked through and, as a try as about to be scored, the chasing player was impeded by full back Harri Sayer. The referee awarded a penalty try and showed a yellow card to Sayer. After only 75 seconds Buzzards were trailing 0-7 and down to fourteen men for the next ten minutes. Worst was to follow – after only five minutes, another kick was not effectively dealt with and an unlucky bounce, Bugbrooke had scored again and with the conversion, Buzzards trailed 0-14.
Leighton slowly worked themselves back into the game. However playing into a strong wind they knew that any ball lost would be kicked back with interest, yet the rain made handling moves difficult. However, after seventeen minutes, Harri Sayer scored a fine individual try jinking and spinning past numerous would-be tacklers to score under the posts. Eddie Wiggins converted to reduce the deficit to 7-14.
Much of the next fifteen minutes took on a similar pattern. With the rain now at its heaviest, both sides were struggling to retain possession. Buzzards may have had slightly more possession but the visitors used the wind to keep pushing Leighton back. Just as it looked as if Leighton could get to half-time without further mishap they conceded a third try. Again this came from a kick and chase, although ball and player appeared to be in touch. Inevitably from a long kick ahead the referee was some distance from the ball but was uncertain enough to have a long conversation with the touch-judge. He confirmed the ball was in play, despite the protestations of those nearby. The difficult conversion was missed leaving the half-time score 7-19.
The second half started well for Buzzards. It took about 5 minutes for Jack Whitehouse to make the decisive break and pass to the supporting Ash Walsh to score by the posts. Unfortunately the conversion was missed but Leighton were back in the game at 12-19. Buzzards drew level ten minutes later. Tom Byard, who had not played for two years, came on as a replacement and with his first touch of the ball, rampaged through the defence to score a brilliant individual try – Eddie Wiggins converted.
Now level with a quarter of the game to go, Buzzards seemed well-set to record a victory. However the wind direction had changed negating the anticipated benefit and Bugbrooke proved determined opposition. Just three minutes after Buzzard’s try, the visitors pounced on a loose ball and, with a clever chip through, scored in the corner to restore their lead at 19-24. Frustration mounted and Ash Walsh was shown a yellow card for dissent with twenty minutes to go. Despite this set-back , Leighton were building pressure – in spite of the difficult conditions, Danny Snowden was having an excellent game at front jumper in the line out and Jack Whitehouse was making threatening half-breaks in midfield. Finally, and with the last play of the game, prop-forward Russell Orr- Burns touched down to level the scores. With the wind now blowing against the kicker the difficult conversion was missed to leave the final score tied at 24-24.
Buzzards slip to second in the league. Next week Leighton play away at Stockwood Park in the Beds Cup on Friday evening before returning to league action away at table-topping Leicester Forest the following weekend.