Old Scouts had to dig deep to get through to the semi-finals of the Midlands Intermediate Cup in a hard-fought battle with Stourbridge Lions.
Following heavy rain all morning, the conditions underfoot were not ideal but Scouts started in great style when from the kick-off the ball was quickly recycled and centre Russell Lynch glided through to touch down. Adam Frost added the simple conversion.
With only 12 minutes on the clock, Scouts increased their lead. Lions had been attempting to get on the scoresheet and were driving hard at the Scouts line. The hosts eventually broke away and from a resulting maul, Frost dived over under the sticks and added the extras.
At this point, Scouts thought they were looking at an easy afternoon but in fact the exact opposite was obviously in Lions’ plans. Within two minutes a speculative kick to the corner was not dealt with and the Lions winger scooped the ball up to dot down in the corner.
Scouts were now having to defend as the visitors continued to attack and a penalty was eventually conceded which they duly converted to bring the score to 14-8.
Lions continued on the offensive and Scouts were finding it difficult to get out of their half.
They did manage it near the end of the half and ain Simmons thought he had worked his way over in the corner only to be brought back by Scouts’ touch judge for foot in touch. The hosts again came close when a kick ahead wasn’t cleared by Lions and Sam French just failed in his attempt to gather the ball over the line.
After the break, Lions soon narrowed the gap to three points with a penalty and it was game on.
Both sides were looking to play a free-flowing game but the ground conditions were getting worse as it cut up. Scouts camped for long periods in their opponents half without success, although they thought they had scored midway through the half when, following a drive for the line by Dan McMurray, the resulting maul saw skipper Maurice Bazini dive over only for the referee to deem that he had been held up.
In this tense affair, Scouts were keeping the Lions in their own half either by continually driving the ball on or by excellent cover defence when a breakaway looked on the cards.
The visitors resolve saw them throwing everything at Scouts with the last roll of the dice and they were held up short of the line before Scouts won a turnover to clear. With seconds remaining Scouts were awarded a scrum and happily cleared to touch to end this close encounter 14-11.
The game was a credit to both sides for providing a competitive match in difficult conditions.
Heathens 5 Mens Own IIs 19
A close-fought and competitive friendly on the Racecourse saw local rivals Mens Own IIs take the honours in a scrappy match that featured a series handling errors by both teams. Mens Own took the lead after eight minutes with an unconverted try which was extended on 13 minutes with a converted try.
Heathens responded on 34 minutes when full-back Ash Brown crossed for an unconverted try that left the score at 12-5 at the break.
Both sides pressed for points in the second half but many moves broke down due to poor handling and the only score of the half came with the last move of the match when Mens Own were awarded a try that they duly converted to make the final score 19-5.
Heathens’ man of the match was Wayne Stride who took the opportunity well of a rare appearance at scrum half.
This Saturday Heathens take on Long Buckby IIs at the Racecourse.
Old Northamptonians 20 Ilkeston 10
Old Northamptonians extended their unbeaten run to seven games as they produced a strong start to beat Ilkeston.
Both sides showed early intentions of running the ball despite the heavy conditions although the first chance was a penalty attempt by Tom Goodman but the kick fell short.
A strong run along the left touchline from Dan Napier took play deep into opposition territory and the quickly recycled ball was spread right where Alex Crofts powered over for his 10th try of the season.
The second score soon followed when Rhys Hughes won clean lineout possession, the pack drove on and the ball was released, Crofts again made initial inroads and swift handling put Joe Marston in at the corner.
A tap and go from Lewis Barker on halfway produced another penalty for the ONs, and a yellow card for Ilkeston, and the home side just won the race to touch down after Goodman had slid a kick through.
Marston was causing the defence problems with his mazy running and although he was stopped just short and the ball was lost forward, the ONs scrum turned over possession but were held up over the line.
Another attack resulted in a five-metre scrum, Phil Beaumont picking up from the base before releasing the backs, when again desperate defence prevented an ONs score. But eventually the pressure and numerical advantage told and Barker burrowed over from close range before Goodman added the conversion.
Restored to 15, Ilkeston came back and with minutes left in the half, were awarded a penalty try at a scrum and Jack Partington added the two points to make the score 17-7 at the break.
Ilkeston further reduced the deficit soon after the resumption with a successful Partington kick but Goodman replied on 50 minutes to take the score to 20-10.
Despite there being no addition to this scoreline in the remainder of the game, there was no shortage of action.
Centre Jake Spencer’s break took play into the Ilkeston half, his pass found Mark Edwards who continued driving forward but after Ilkeston had infringed at the breakdown, Goodman’s penalty attempt was wide.
At the other end, it required a concerted defensive effort by both backs and forwards when Ilkeston mounted a series of attacks but the tackling was secure and the pressure relieved.
Another Goodman kick was wide, however the intensity did not drop as both sets of players, now muddied and almost indistinguishable and with steam rising from the packs, continued to slog it out, the ONs seeking their fourth try and Ilkeston a losing bonus-point score.
But the defences held firm and as the final whistle blew it was the ONs who celebrated a hard-fought win.
Leighton Buzzard 8 Towcestrians 5
It was inevitable at the start of the day that this was to be a tough and frustrating game of rugby as the rain lashed down.
Tows started well, pushing a lineout drive over from close range, captain Liam Wilkinson dotted down.
Playing down the slope however Tows failed to capitalise on their territory and poor discipline allowed Buzzard to find some great field positions.
Both sides seemed intent on spreading the ball wide, however with the conditions being so bad this was hard work.
The second half was largely played in the middle of the field and for some time it was a stalemate before the hosts then finally found their way to the try, only for their conversion to hit the post.
With Tows’ lineout struggling, opportunities went begging and towards the end of the game, to the astonishment of Tom George he received a yellow card in front of the posts. Buzzard kicked the resulting penalty to take the game in the closing stages.
Tows’ second string ran out 31-0 winners against Buzzard IIs, while the IIIs went down to only their second loss of the season to a mixed Market Harborough side.