String of Harbury mistakes allow OLs to run away with derby encounter

Three tries in the final ten minutes gave Old Leamingtonians a somewhat flattering margin of victory in this derby encounter after struggling Harbury failed to make the most of their first-half wind advantage.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 11:48 am
OLs' Ciaran O'Connor evades the grasp of Harbury's Daz Kittendorf. Pictures: Morris Troughton

Despite playing into the elements, it was Old Leamingtonians who posted the first score inside the opening three minutes.

Harbury were penalised and the resultant kick pushed them back to within five metres of their own line, with hooker Reece Jones eventually forcing his way through a number of tackles to touch down.

The conversion was missed but it seemed that Old Leamingtonians would carry on where they left off in the early-season fixture between the two sides when they were easy 30-5 winners.

However, it was Harbury who produced the better co-ordinated rugby for the remainder of the first half.

Unfortunately, despite gaining excellent field position, a series of basic errors flawed their approach with dropped balls, not rolling away, not releasing and forward passes characterising their game.

OLs could therefore look back on 40 minutes of successful defending helped considerably by a profligate opposition to turn round with not only a wind advantage but also a handy five-point lead.

The second half was a complete transformation as OLs changed their gameplan to bring the three-quarters into play.

However, it was another early score from Jones following a rolling maul that added to the home tally, with the try going unconverted.

With Old Leamingtonians now forcing Harbury to spread themselves wider through the use of the three-quarters it allowed gaps to develop in the visitors’ defence.

These were capitalised upon, with further tries courtesy of captain and flanker Rob Smith and number eight Tom Heslop, the latter try being converted by Brad James.

Harbury were now tiring, but it was not until the final ten minutes that the hosts ran away with the game, with the next try coming on the back of a period of promise from the visitors.

Harbury got to within five metres of OLs’ line before a forceful surge from centre Daz Kittendorf, in which he drove through two attempted tackles, seemed certain to result in a try.

However, a tap tackle took him to ground and the ball went loose for an alert Paul Salvin to deftly gather up.

Noting no one was at home, the Old Leamingtonians winger ran the length of the pitch to score, with the conversion from James taking OLs out to a 29-point lead.

Further tries from Ryan Dee and James, both of which he converted, completed the rout, with Harbury left to reflect on a frustrating first half which might have given the game a far closer outcome.

Both sides are without a game this weekend with the Six Nations again taking centre stage.