Lutterworth Edge Thriller
Harborough left Lutterworth with a losing bonus point after conceding a late try to lose 28-26 in a tightly contested match. Unavailability and injuries gave opportunities for the returning Ed Parker, Ed Bale and Stu Bale to make their league debuts for the season.
Playing with the wind in the first half Harborough started brightly and took an early lead through a Laurence Joel penalty after 5 minutes before Lutterworth drew level a few minutes later with a penalty of their own. Both sides were putting some good phases of play together and looking to play running rugby in the warm conditions.
Jack Digby scored the first try of the afternoon after a bullocking run in the home side’s 22 which saw him just manage to get the ball on the line after a last ditch tackle, Joel duly converted to give the visitors a 7 point lead.
Another penalty from Joel extended the margin on 35 minutes and Harborough looked good for their lead; The defence was much more solid despite being under pressure as Lutterworth were successfully putting multiple phases together using their forwards and backs to good effect. However Harborough were holding strong and with the ball looked controlled and the set piece was firing well.
Just on the stroke of half time Lutterworth scored a converted try to narrow the gap to just 3 points, Harborough were probably guilty of overplaying a little when perhaps running down the clock for the last minute or so of the half would have been a wiser option. This is an example of the learning curve for the young Harborough players find themselves on, as the teams in the league below would not take the chances afforded to them in the same way as they do in this league.
With only a minute gone in the second half Harborough were down to 14 men for 10 minutes as Geordan Stout was shown a yellow for a deliberate knock on. The penalty was kicked by Lutterworth’s winger to even the scores up.
Midway into the half a Harborough attack on half way broke down and Lutterworth stormed away, some great scramble defence brought the Lutterworth player short of line and saw the ball bounce loose, it was picked up by a home player who scored in the corner. The try was awarded despite some suspicion of a knock on and momentum swung the way of Lutterworth as they took the lead for the first time.
Another penalty from Joel made the score 20-16 to Luterworth and with 20 minutes to go the game was still wide open. A scrum to Harborough saw them move the ball wide with some great lines of running and handling, Harvey Slade bursting on to the ball to break the line before feeding Ed Parker on the wing to score his first try of the season in his first game back after injury. The conversion from Joel gave the lead back to the Blackcats at 20-23.
Going in to the final 10 minutes Lutterworth slotted another penalty and both sides made changes as they looked for the decisive score. In unseasonably warm conditions both sets of forwards had put in huge shifts for the respective teams.
With the minutes running down Harborough were awarded a penalty just shy of half way in the middle of the pitch. Joel, who has been in great kicking form, stepped up with a fantastic kick which proved his similar attempt against Towcestrians a few weeks ago was no fluke. With the score at 23-26 it looked like Harborogh had managed to sneak a well deserved win but they failed to switch on quickly enough at the restart and put themselves immediately under pressure.
Conceding a penalty for a high tackle just inside their own half Harborough ultimately awarded Lutterworth the chance for a last minute try. The kick to the corner from the Lutterworth player was a good one and the home side used the field position to work a try in the corner to take a 28-26 lead with a minute or 2 to go. A difficult late penalty chance from wide on the left gave Joel the opportunity to steal the game at the last but the kick drifted across the face of the uprights and Lutterworth cleared in to touch to end the game.
The players had given their all and were undone by nothing more than a handful of errors of judgement and giving away field position to a team who know how to take their chances. You get the feeling that the Harborough squad are developing every week as they find their feet in a league where errors tend to be punished and chances have to be taken. Its great to see the young squad adapting and learning and being so competitive so early on in their life at level 6, especially against a team which is well established in Midlands 1.
There was another great display of solid ball carrying from Josh Jones who has really set his stall out this season. Its great to see players like Josh coming through and making an impact. We are also delighted to see players like Ed Bale getting their boots back on (albeit for a very brief cameo!) and Ed Parker returning after a period of injury.