Precision, execution and flourishing attacking rugby provide 7 tries and a win for Leigh Layabouts on the road.
Being Leigh’s second clash of the season against their neighbours Tunbridge Wells, the Layabouts were keen to extend their three-match unbeaten run.
With a light rain shower the day before & the sun shining it certainly was perfect conditions for a game of rugby. The crowd certainly were making good use of the weather, by sitting out on the Twell’s ‘Veranda’ with shades, shorts & a beer in hand! Got to love ‘almost’ summer rugby!
Following their previous encounter against a formidable Tunbridge Wells side, especially within the forwards, and considering the first half performance against Gravesend the week before, Leigh came with a focussed game plan. The strategy being to involve their backline early on, to dominate the scoreboard.
That is exactly what they did. With Leigh opting to kickoff from the coin toss, the first 10 minutes of the game was spent going back and forth between the sides with Leigh using their back line to break, but then a few errors led to a few knock-on’s and penalty’s. As they say, best to get the **** ones out the way early! However, it didn’t take long for Leigh to get a penalty in the opponents 22, a quick ‘tap & go’ and some crisp hands saw the ball into the palms of outside centre Wayne Bell who scored just wide of the corner. The conversion not being added by Dan Hird (0-5).
Playing with tempo and good structure, Leigh were soon to add their second score of the game with Fly-half Dan Hird breaking the line close to the ruck, was tackled short illegally ahead of the try line, leading to another penalty & quick ‘tap & go’ that this time saw Will Bailey score in the other corner. The conversion unfortunately not being added by Dan Hird. (0-10).
This stirred the home side, and for the next five minutes TWell’s were exerting excellent pressure on the visitors, and with a reliable boot from their fly-half, were able to gain good field territory to setup the lineout in Leigh’s 22. A throw to the front pod saw TWell’s setup the driving maul that slowly marched its way towards Leigh’s try line, a lapse in concentration saw no guards around the fringes and led to an easy score for the number 8, peeling off the side and diving over the line. The conversion was added. (7-10).
The next score was crucial for Leigh to re-assert their dominance on the game and stem the momentum that was brewing within the TWell’s camp. That score came from inside centre Matt Liles whom managed to pounce on a loose ball from TWells and score under the posts, whilst choosing to make full use of the dead ball area too (I believe a certain award for the day could be given here Sir!). The kicking duties were handed over to scrum-half & skipper on the day Chris Austin who added the conversion (Probably should have done… considering its in front of the posts…) (7-17).
From the restart, Leigh’s pack wanted to get involved on the action and saw second row Kurtis Luscher ‘get on his bike’ with a charge up the middle, with good supporting lines from his team mates. Finally with the play being finished off with a spread wide to the backs that saw Dan Hird finish off a fine team move in the corner. The conversion neatly being slotted by Chris Austin (7-24).
With under 5 minutes to go, TWells were not about to lie down, having the upper-hand in the scrums and getting the push on Leigh pretty much every time, this set a good platform from which to attack, and the last score of the half came again from a few missed tackles and a score in the corner. The conversion not being added (12-24).
HALF TIME (12-24)
During the half time team huddle & the customary ‘sack of oranges’, wise words were exchanged to re-focus the team on the strategy & how they would execute. A few changes were also made with Rory Martin, back for the weekend from Cardiff, replacing James Thorpe on the wing and a debut for Adrian Suter aka ‘Lumpy’ replacing last months ‘player of the month’ Ben Pullen in the front row.
Lumpy was to have an immediate impact, with TWells having favoured the scrum in the first half given their scrummaging superiority, were given the push back as Leigh began to compete and take the upper hand against the TWells pack. As a result, the good platform fed the Leigh back line and that man Wayne Bell was at it again with quick feet and a dummy to add his second try of the game. The conversion being added by Chris Austin (12-31).
As both teams began to tire, chinks started to appear in the armour, one such gap being exploited by scrum-half Chris Austin as he took an offload off the shoulder of his number 8 Will Bailey and sprinted the length of the pitch only to be tackled short of the line. The TWells defenders going in off their feet conceded the penalty & Will Bailey having started the move had the initiative to ‘tap & go’ and strength to muscle his way over the line for his 10th try of the season. The conversion being added by Chris Austin (12-38).
With 20 minutes to go, a few final substitutions were made with Chris Attwell & Zach Merricks replacing Kurtis Lusher & Sam Howard in the second row. Leigh continued to execute against their game plan, with the forwards working tirelessly on a ridiculously large pitch to cover the ground and secure a good platform from which to attack. The ball made its way through the back line following a series of strike moves where Wayne Bell broke the line and was 1 on 1 with the fullback and popped off to the supporting line of Chris Austin for a score just wide of the posts. However he was not able to add the conversion on his own try (12-43).
If Leigh thought that their seventh try would break TWells, then they could think again. The home side showed how determined they were and responded with a try of their own. Following scrappy play and an end to end kicking game, a mis-match was spotted on the far wing and the young TWells winger kicked through and managed to ground the ball to settle the affair. The conversion not being added (17-43).
FULL TIME (17-43).
Man of the Match goes to Wayne Bell, building on an excellent performance last week, Wayne was sheer class today and combined well with his back line and managed to grab two scores to his name. Long may it continue!
A special mention must go to Toby Laubach who has been a faithful servant to the club this season, whom is soon to be a father of his first child. With the due date a little over a week away, today was likely to be Toby’s last game for the club for a while, and we wish Toby, his wife & their new born all the best and we look forward to seeing them back down the club very soon!
Finally, due to Lordswood having withdrawn from the league, there now only remains two league games of the season against Aylesford & Gillingham both at home, both whom put up a stern test for Leigh with Gillingham having beaten Leigh on the away fixture. It’s incredibly important to remain focussed on the prize and finish the season strong. See you all at training on Wednesday!