Narrow defeat for Olney
Olney could not quite manage to overturn Market Harborough's second half advantage to snatch victory, losing out 13-10.
The home side kicked off and Olney counter attacked taking play into the home side's '22'. They were awarded a penalty and kicked to touch for a lineout 5m. from the Harborough goal line. The Harborough forwards won the ball and kicked for touch but failed to find it. The game continued with a series of scrums and penalties occupying the opening ten minutes, both sides looking for the a breakthrough. The first scoring opportunity went to Harborough who were awarded a penalty for 'offside' in the visitor's '22'. Lawrence Joel was successful with his kick to goal, giving Harborough a 3-0 lead after 12 minutes.
Play ebbed and flowed without either side able to overcome the others defence. The steady drizzle no doubt contributed to the 'knock on' count and forward passes adding to the number of scrummages. Towards the end of the first half Olney replaced their stand off, Lloyd Sweeney, Jacob DeMain coming off the bench. This proved an astute move when Harborough were penalised for 'offside' and DeMain was successful with his kick to goal, levelling the scores at 3-3.
The visitors kicked off for the second half and Harborough returned the ball with a long kick into Olney's half. They put the pressure on the visitor's defence, keeping play in Olney territory. The defence held up until Harborough managed to switch play from one side of the pitch to the other putting Joel in for a try in the corner to take the lead to 8-3.
Olney kicked off for the restart and Harborough counter attacked, running the ball in their threes'. The visitors won possession at the breakdown and gained a scrum on the Harborough 10m. line. The conditions improved when the rain stopped and Olney gained more territorial advantage. Harborough were unfortunate to lose their hooker and a lock within the period of a few minutes, both being replaced from their subs' bench. With the match moving into the last quarter Olney made changes; Charlie Harris and Jake Deighton being replaced by Lloyd Sweeny and John Robinson. This was shortly followed by Jake Ashton replacing Jim Osborn in the Olney front row.
Harborough increased their lead to 13-3 with a well taken try by Chris Bale.
With 15 minutes, plus injury time to go, the visitors received a wake up call. They kicked off and the ball was returned into touch on halfway. Olney won the lineout and Freddie Betteridge made the breakthrough with a charge through the opposition. He was backed up and the Olney pack drove the ball to 5m from the home goal line. Harborough were awarded a penalty and kicked to touch but the ball was kept in. A scrum to Olney on their '22' was won and fed to the backs. The forwards supported the move which resulted in prop forward Graham Smith touching down in the corner for a try, converted by DeMain to bring the deficit back to three points at 13-10.
Following the kick off Olney attacked into the corner on Harborough's 5m. line, and dominated possession. They were awarded two penalties in the final minutes of added time. On each occasion they took the scrum option but Harborough managed to protect their lead.