Shelford are league champions after Leighton Buzzard thrashing

Shelford are league champions after Leighton Buzzard thrashing

By Josh Barnes
13 April
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The Men's 1st XV join the Women in achieving the league title with a game to spare.

What a start! Shelford were on the front foot from the kick-off.

The opening five minutes were played inside Leighton Buzzard's half, alhough they were able to clear following a couple of penalties.

The Peacocks kept knocking at the door, and in the eighth minute, scored their 1st try.

The forwards crashed into contact, drawing defenders in and, with space on the outside, Baker shipped the ball out to his backs who put the ball through sure hands, with Tang finishing in the corner.

Cracknell's wonderful strike from the touchline added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Shelford continued to dominate and were rewarded only two minutes later. Their early giveaway penalties were not repeated and the backs now played with conviction and confidence.

Chiwanga initially broke and the LB defenders were caught off-guard. He found Biard, who made good ground himself before being tackled.

With the defenders scrambling to get back, Baker was aware of space on the blind-side and ran in unopposed, scoring with ease. Cracknell slotted an easy kick and Shelford had doubled their lead inside 10 minutes, 14-0.

The forwards were now creating the perfect platform for the backs to play at their free-flowing best.

Biard again carried convincingly into the Buzzards half. Making progress into the 22, he was stopped illegally and the switched-on Baker took a quick tap.

With the defenders retreating to their white line, Baker off-loaded to Buchanan, who scored amid great celebrations. Cracknell kicked his third conversion in 15 minutes, boosting the lead to 21-0.

The away side were struggling to keep up with the pace of the contest. 20 minutes in, they did make their way into Shelford’s half following a penalty. However, the Peacocks' defence was imperious and Leighton Buzzard were going backwards, even in possession!

Following a turnover, Shelford had possession once again and, within minutes, had their bonus point.

Baker, impressive throughout, box-kicked into acres of space, but the Buzzards' clearing kick made little distance and went straight to a Shelford hand. Within a single phase, the ball was out to Biard, who crossed unopposed.

Cracknell missed a difficult conversion, but Shelford led 26-0 and had the bonus point in the bag.

The home side were not letting up however, despite this early onslaught. Within two minutes of gaining their bonus point, try no.5 was on the scoreboard.

Following more brilliant work from Biard and Chiwanga, Gillick crossed for his first of the contest.

Cracknell kicked a wonderful banana-curve conversion and, inside half an hour, Shelford were leading 33-0.

Leighton Buzzard did have moments of possession before the break, but were met with fierce defending, knocking them back with every phase.

The first half seemed to stop slightly early, but still time enough for Shelford to score their 6th try!.

Following a defensive line-out from Leighton Buzzard, the ball was turned over and Baker crossed - again - with extreme ease.

The Buzzards had been blown away during the most dominant half of rugby I’ve ever seen.

With the result and League title undoubtedly in the bag for the Peacocks, Will Cotterill used his three substitutes at once. Two of the replacements, Sam Arbon and Harvey Taylor, were Colts making their first team debuts.

Despite the changes, there was no let-up for Leighton Buzzard.

Right at the start of the second half, Shelford scored their 7th try after only three minutes.

The away side had possession, but following an interception, Tang was released His flying trademark pace saw him pass half of the away side without a defender laying a finger on his jersey!

Conversion missed, but Shelford led 45-0.

With all respect to Leighton Buzzard, they now had their most dominant period of the game, following this latest concession.

Two tries came in under 10 minutes, the 2nd from a well-worked scrum, as their forwards crashed over and a penalty try was looming.

The first conversion was missed, but the away side had at last put some respectability on the scoreboard,⁴ 45-12.

Seeing Leighton Buzzard growing into the contest, Shelford counter-punched, with another moment of magic from full-back Gillick.

Running from halfway, he decided to grubber kick through the defensive line and chased it down to slide over from 2 metres out, using his momentum to cross in style.

Taylor, who had taken over kicking duties from elder statesman Cracknell, was close to scoring his first senior points, but the kick hit the flag on the posts and bounced wide.

Over the following ten minutes, both sides competed hard in a game that had seemed completely one-sided in the first half! But it was no surprise when Shelford broke the impasse, with Gillick's hat-trick try!

Biard nearly scored himself, but was stopped short - although he found the offload for Gillick to cross easily.

The conversion was missed, but the score now stood at 55-12.

Despite the clock running down, Shelford still had time for more points, with Dunnett and Brosnan both scoring deserved tries.

One of the loudest cheers of the afternoon came when Taylor kicked the conversion for Dunnett’s try. These were his debut points for the 1st team, repeated just moments later for Brosnan's try - and now the referee blew time.

Final score 69-12.

Shelford’s Men had joined Shelford’s Women, in winning the league title.

Gillick, Chiwanga (C), Biard, Brosnan, Tang, Cracknell, Baker; Taylor, Huppatz, Emsley, Clark, Buchanan, Holmes, Dunnett, Bates.
Replacements: Miller, Arbon, Taylor.

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