Derby bragging rights for OLs after Harbury lose forward momentum

Tempers boil over during Saturday's derby between Harbury and Old Leamingtonians. Picture: Morris Troughton
Tempers boil over during Saturday's derby between Harbury and Old Leamingtonians. Picture: Morris Troughton
  • Midlands Three West (South)
  • Harbury 5 Old Leamingtonians 30

Although Old Leamingtonians emerged comfortable winners at the final whistle, the result belies the excellent effort put in by Harbury, particularly in the final quarter of the first half.

On a cold, windy afternoon, OLs had significant possession during the opening quarter and took advantage in the third minute with an unconverted try for prop Craig Ellis.

Harbury were forced on the defensive and the second score ten minutes into the match was rather unfortunate on the hosts.

Having achieved an excellent turnover five metres from their line, the attempted clearance kick was charged down and hooker Reece Jones broke from a driving maul to touch down.

In difficult conditions, the try went unconverted and this was to prove a feature of the game.

After this, Old Leamingtonians’ points dried up with sloppy handling and a failure to take clearcut chances frustrating the visitors.

This enabled Harbury to take play out of their half for the first time in the match.

Strong running by the backs and good interplay between the forwards took them deep into OLs’ 22.

A number of forceful scrums pushed the visitors back and twice Harbury were denied a touchdown.

The pressure was eventually rewarded when Rob Andrews joined the line ten metres out and, putting his head up, saw a gap on the far side of the pitch.

His excellent kick was well gathered by Gaz Evans who finished off a good phase of play to reduce the deficit to 10-5 at the interval.

The second half began in much the same vein as the first with Old Leamingtonians, now with the benefit of a gusty wind, enjoying territorial advantage.

After 50 minutes, the visitors’ openside flanker Tom Heslop forced his way over for a score to put his team 15-5 ahead.

OLs’ scrum was beginning to function more effectively and, in contrast to the first half, starting to cause Harbury problems.

Their cause was aided when the hosts were penalised for a forward entering a rolling maul from the side.

This reduced the home pack numerically and from a five-metre scrum captain Rob Smith crossed for the bonus-point try.

Harbury’s forward loss was further compounded when both teams had a player sent to the bin.

However, while Harbury saw their forward ranks further diminished, OLs had to make do without a centre.

This was to prove crucial as Old Leamingtonians’ constant pressure yielded a further try, with the ball thrown out into the three-quarters for centre Tom Eales to cross.

With only a few minutes remaining, hooker Jones crossed the line after further good driving play from OLs’ forwards for his second and the visitors’ sixth unconverted try of the afternoon.

However, Harbury can take heart from a promising display as they look to stem their losing run.