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Match Report

Leighton Buzzard 13 Norwich 7

25/09/2021

Leighton Buzzard 13 Norwich 7

Norwich will be more disappointed in this game than any of the others they have lost so far this season as it was there for the taking. Leighton Buzzard played down the significant slope in the first half and the error count betrayed why both teams are struggling in this League with ball retention errors causing the play to be fragmented.

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Norwich’s main problem in the early exchanges was being too slow to the breakdown but a robust defensive effort kept the hosts at bay. That was until 15 minutes when, against the run of play and with any score looking a distant prospect, Leighton Buzzard kicked high and Norwich failed to get under the ball. A wicked bounce wrong-footed the Norwich defender and popped into the arms of the Leighton Buzzard player to score. The conversion was missed.

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After 20 minutes centre Dave West went off injured which was a huge blow to Norwich compounded in the second half with a head injury to Vivek Valmiki. Some excellent kicking from Theo Elliott kept Norwich in Leighton Buzzard territory but for the fourth week in a row the lineout was unreliable.

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Norwich then camped on the hosts 5 metre line for about 15 minutes. They had dominance in the scrum and after 6 scrum penalties against them in the same area Leighton Buzzard received a warning from the referee.

 Leighton Buzzard v Norwich-18.jpg

After another scrum penalty immediately afterwards, the hosts will have considered themselves fortunate to retain 15 players on the field as the referee couldn’t decide which of their front 3 was responsible so decided not to card anyone. They made the most of their good fortune and managed to turn the ball over shortly afterwards to clear their lines way down the slope.

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Having got themselves back into to the Norwich 22, Leighton Buzzard were awarded a penalty in front of the posts for not releasing the ball. They converted to end the half 8:0.

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In the second half, a missed Norwich tackle wide on the right allowed Leighton Buzzard to impose themselves on the Norwich defence for the only time in the half and crash over 10 metres in. The conversion was missed.

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For the next 35 minutes, Norwich had nearly all of the territory but failed to make the most of it, mostly opting for their fragile lineout rather than their dominant scrum when they had a penalty. Errors when they had the ball compounded matters but they finally scored by patiently building through the phases stretching the defence one way and then the other, ending with Theo Elliott going over 10 metres in. He converted his own try with an excellent kick.

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Norwich broke through the well-organised Leighton Buzzard defence with some excellent interplay between flankers Dave Micklethwaite and Jake Wharton, playing as centres with Wharton offloading to Conan Hoey to carry it forward close to the Leighton Buzzard line.

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With time nearly up Elliott put a penalty kick into the corner for Norwich’s last chance. For once they retained the ball from the lineout and worked across field near the posts. As the ball went to ground and a ruck formed 5 metres out, Norwich did not look after the ball well enough and were penalised. The ball was kicked dead and the game ended. A losing bonus point was scant consolation for a frustrating afternoon of fragmented rugby that they should have won.

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The list of things Norwich need to put right is considerable but it will need doing before the visit of Harpenden next week or another difficult afternoon can be expected.



 



 
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