By Jamie Arrowsmith 14/03 Updated: 14/03 12:21
Old Laurentians 20 Upton on Severn 8
Midlands Two West (South)
OLs overcame a number of problems to keep themselves firmly in the hunt for a second placed finish with victory against Upton on Saturday.
Hit by injuries and non-availability, OLs were forced into a number of changes against an Upton side who had unexpectedly pulled off a narrow win in the earlier league fixture between the two.
The situation was made worse for the hosts when scrum half Luke Harris suffered a serious shoulder injury after just 20 minutes of another close encounter.
Upton started well and their lively backs threatened in the opening exchanges, but OLs began to find some rhythm to launch their first serious attack after ten minutes, forcing a penalty which Jon Bean put over, followed two minutes later with a second successful kick for a 6-0 lead.
Upton pulled three points back when Heeley kicked a penalty after 12 minutes as neither side was able to establish a clear superiority, although OLs’ pack were beginning to gain the upper hand in the forward battle.
After Harris had left the field, centre Iain Wallis moved in to take over scrum half duties but Upton surprised OLs with an opportunist try.
A well-directed kick from stand-off Keyte bounced unkindly for the covering defence and obligingly for Upton’s right wing Ayres, who went over. The try was unconverted but Upton led 8-6 after 30 minutes.
OLs were now showing some good touches but not managing to string them together to produce a sustained threat to the Upton line, often thwarted by a well organised defence.
Then a long and dangerous run down the left by Ben Roberts took them close, before Upton regained possession and lifted a steepling kick out of defence.
It was well taken by Troy Owen who counter-attacked strongly to set up a maul near Upton’s line, Wallis sniped round the fringe and created the opening for Andy Orbinson to go over under the posts. Bean added the extras to restore OLs’ lead at 13-8 as the half time whistle sounded.
As the second half unwound, Upton’s earlier efforts began to take their toll as OLs’ pack assumed control of the forward battle, regularly disrupting the visitors’ possession in the tight and winning quality line-out possession.
Some 20 minutes in a slashing break by Bean should have produced a score but good scrambling defence got back to catch Ben Wiles short of the line.
The second half remained scoreless for 30 minutes before number eight Jack Boulden drove over the gain line from the base of a scrum to create half an opening that Bean exploited skilfully and the fly half drew the last defender before sending Simon Bayliss on his way to the line, Bean added the goal points and OLs played out the remaining time without alarm to claim a vital win.
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