What a difference a week makes! Sixteen players arrived at out hosts for the cup semi-final and by the state of the pitch we could tell the boys were in for a hard day at the office. If we thought there was a slope at Barnet last week the pitch today had an even greater slope.
Leighton Buzzard were a big, strong and well drilled team and Stockwood would have to bring their ‘A’ game to stand a chance. Leighton Buzzard, playing the first half downhill, started off strongly and this together with a number of handling errors and mistakes from Stockwood led to them running in two tries, one of which was converted, within the first 15 minutes.
I heard Leighton Buzzard shouting that ‘our boys heads were down’, little did they know about Stockwood’s fighting spirit. For the first time in the game our forwards actually put some pressure on the Leighton Buzzard defence and after a number of phases we found ourselves forming a ruck in our opponents 5 metres. A quick ball from Will to Mark, a combination that had worked so well last week, led to Stockwood scoring their first try which Jordan successfully converted to make the score 12 points to 7 in favour of Leighton Buzzard.
However, our hosts continued to put pressure on the Stockwood defence and the errors crept back into their game. Leighton Buzzard finished the half in the ascendancy running over two further tries, although they were starting to show signs of indiscipline and finished the half with 14 players on the pitch. The ref blew up for the end of the first half with our hosts winning by 22 points to 7.
The second half started and Stockwood started strongly and exposed Leighton Buzzard’s poor discipline. Whereas Stockwood’s first try was scored through the forwards the second was created by good play by the backs, a move that ended with Paulius receiving the ball on the halfway line and running past Leighton Buzzard’s defence to score the first of two tries between the posts. Kieran converted the try to narrow the score to 8 points.
Unfortunately, Stockwood were unable to capitalise on this momentum as the errors once again were to prove their downfall. The next score went to Leighton Buzzard as their forwards powered their way over the try line to make the score 29 points to 14, after a successful conversion. A moment of individual genius by Kieran as he chased down his own kick over the Leighton Buzzard’s defence to reduce the deficit to just 10 points.
As before Stockwood once again were unable to put their stamp on the game and Leighton Buzzard extended their lead by 12 points with two more tries and a conversion, although Steven is convinced he held one of their tries up!!
Although beaten, Stockwood had the last say of the game as Joe L broke through the Leighton Buzzard line and a superb offload led to Paulius scoring his second try of the game and Kieran getting his second conversion. This was to prove the final action of the day as the ref blew up for full time and a loss for Stockwood by 41 points to 26.
Although it was a disappointing result and I know the boys felt after the game that they hadn’t done themselves justice they shouldn’t beat themselves up too much. They once again proved that they have a never say die attitude but there were too many occasions when they set up good positions only to give the ball away cheaply to Leighton Buzzard.