M1 Roadshow Proves a Snow Go
A strong wind and snowy conditions, against a motorway backdrop saw Harborough pipped in a highly entertaining game.
With the game postponed a fortnight ago because of snow, a similar wintry landscape met both teams at kick-off. It wasn't a day for the feint hearted and a game of bravado and bluster kept both sets of supporters royally entertained.
An early Laurence Joel interception try in the first ten minutes of the game gave the visitors a perfect start. Josh Purnell converted and Harborough were ahead 7-0. The Black Cats defence, so well polished in recent weeks, was evident again and Tim Waterfield and Tim Brown led from the front. As the first half progressed, Harborough probed and prodded the home team looking for weaknesses to exploit. Joe Whitworth fed runners but the telling break just didn't materialise and Ed Parker and Sumpter came close to loosening the shackles on a couple of occasions. Harborough were the more impressive team for much of the first half but couldn't keep the scoreboard ticking. Purnell missed a penalty, hooking it to the right, after 30 minutes. The visitors tested the home side with phase after phase of quick recycled ball, conditions underfoot made a fast free flowing game difficult. As much as Harborough huffed and puffed they couldn't blow Luton's house down.
With half time approaching, Harborough naively threw the ball into touch expecting the whistle to signal the break. However, the referee, signalled a penalty, Luton kicked to the corner and rumbled over from the ensuing lineout. In a game of few scoring chances this was to prove crucial as the visitors deserved a lead but were level 7-7 at half time.
The second half started with some trademark barnstorming runs from Jack Digby, Harborough looked like they might impose themselves on the scoreboard but now it was Luton's defence that was resolute. The home team were ferocious in the tackle and their forwards led by Ryan Staff began to gain the upper hand. Luton's fly half, Rik Hobbs, started to move Harborough around the pitch and from one of his impressive kicks a bouncing ball deceived the Harborough defence and Luton duly touched down to take a 14-7 lead. There was a suspicion of obstruction but this and other decisions were not picked up for both teams during the game.
Ed Sumpter nearly had Harborough back in the game with a lung busting break tearing 50 yards up the pitch only to be cut short by the covering defender. Both sides showed a vivacious appetite at the breakdown, with neither team wishing to take a backward step.
Time finally beat Harborough, but not before they launched one final assault at Luton's try line, but the final whistle heralded a home team win 14-7. The home side knew they had taken part in a tough encounter. The visitors, although disappointed, can hold their heads high and should be proud of their performance. Small costly errors in a low scoring game were the difference. It's time to shake of the blues and stroll on to Stamford next week , come on the Black Cats!!!