Leamington Royals fail to exorcise Demons in promising league opener

Tom Hyam converts for Royals. Picture: Tim Nunan
Tom Hyam converts for Royals. Picture: Tim Nunan

There were plenty of positives for Leamington Royals despite a 34-12 defeat to reigning Midland Premier League champions Northampton Demons in their opening league fixture last Saturday.

Demons went through the last campaign unbeaten, but found themselves trailing 12-10 at half-time to a Leamington side featuring several debutants.

Northampton opened the scoring with an unconverted try in the 20th minute but Royals forced a turnover straight from the restart thanks to a big hit by loose forward Ben Warman.

From the resulting set, scrum-half Tom Hyam kicked crossfield and James Urquhart knocked the ball back for Rhys Horton to score.

Hyam knocked over the conversion to give Royals a 6-4 lead.

This gave the Leamington side confidence and a couple of penalties moved them into attacking territory.

Following a few drives at the line, debutant Reece Jones evaded three tacklers to crash over near to the posts.

Hyam’s conversion extended the lead to by six points, but a momentary lapse in concentration allowed Demons’ winger to score out wide on the stroke of half-time.

The second half started in the same way as the first, with defences on top.

Royals looked like they had repelled a series of Northampton attacks. However, an unforced error at a scrum gave the visitors the ball and they used it to great effect, scoring out wide from a set-piece play.

This set the tone of the half as Leamington, after some brilliant defence, visibly tired.

This resulted in a couple more unforced errors and penalties for not retreating the compulsory ten metres in defence.

As befits their champion status, Northampton capitalised on these to score a couple of quickfire tries to give the scoreline a lopsided appearance.