unlucky not to gain two bonus points and possibly even victory
Despite the scoreline Harbury produced a highly committed and thoughtful performance in a match where they were unlucky not to gain two bonus points and possibly even victory.
The opening ten minutes found the visitors under significant pressure with the game being played entirely in their half. Burbage were calling all the shots and their excellent back line, in which their outside centre was an impressive and dominant figure, put increasing pressure on the Harbury line. The visitors produced an excellent defencsive wall although a wave of attacks finally created just enough space for the left wing to touch down in the corner. The conversion was well struck by the home no 10 who enjoyed a 100% record from the tee.
However, if Burbage thought that this was going to be an easy ride they had a rude awakening. A long kick for touch from the restart was well gathered by centre Paul Evans who used his pace and side stepping abilities to great effect as he sythed his way through the opposing defence. 15 metres from the line he was tackled but excellent support play form lock Tom Allen enabled a score wide out. Ricky Alford added the conversion and the scoreline was evened up a 7-7..
Burbage took affront at this and added a second well worked try through their backline, the conversion was added an they were in front once more for a 14-7 lead. Harbury were gaining dominance in set play and they achieved an upper hand in the scrum and loose play a pressure which they exerted as the course of the match evolved. A penalty from Alford and a well driven rocking maul allowed the front row to claim a touch down. Although the conversion was missed Harbury opened the second half with a 15-14 lead.
Burbage regained the initiative just after the break when a speculative kick into the Harbury 22 landed wickedly and a home forward was able to gather and touchdown to extend their lead to seven points. They quickly added a fourth try to open up the gap to 13 points.
Harbury, responded in fine form. First through a Richard Mazurek penalty to make it 28-18, though Burbage added a firth try through their outside centre for a seventeen point lead at 35-18. This encouraged Harbury to push hard and they were awarded a penalty try following a driving maul from the pack to make in 35-25.
Burbage were starting to leak penalties as the pressure grew. A well judged kick to the corner gave Harbury a chance for bonus points. Frustratingly the lineout went wary and Burgage were able to clear their lines. Harbury were given another opportunity but once again the line out was poor and Burbage were offered either a scrum or a lineout. Aware that they would probably loose the scrum they opted for the throw in and were able to move play deep into the Harbury territory.
A frustrating outcome for Harbury who overall put together a fine team performance and were certainly worth the possible bonus point and even the win. Who knows what might have happened had they scored the try through their pack. On such narrow margins games are won and lost.