Midlands Two West (South) Banbury 28 Leamington 5
eamington’s difficult start to the season continued against a very tidy Banbury outfit.
However their display showed more confidence and they can consider themselves unlucky not to come away with some reward.
They bossed both the scrum and the line-out but one negative in the opening quarter was the high penalty count.
Banbury were camped in the Leamington half for the first 15 minutes but Leamington kept a steady nerve and defended their line impeccably.
The scrum was also another strong area for the Moorefield Men, with skipper Danny Phillips, Tom Greevy and Scott Peters all putting in polished performances.
On the half hour, Leamington’s winger Richard Smith broke up the far wing and slipped an inside pass to Greevy. Although the prop soon came under pressure, he managed to get the ball to the backline.
This incursion ended with a penalty, which Patch Northover just pushed wide from distance.
In the final minutes of the half, Banbury finally found a chink in the defence and broke through to score a converted try.
Soon after, Richard Smith had to put in a try-saving tackle to prevent another score before second row Craig Smith was also called upon to snub out a Banbury attack.
Leamington’s all-round performance was more polished than in previous weeks but there was disappointment at their inability to create a break in the opposition’s danger zone.
They were not helped when Smith’s strong tackle was deemed illegal and he was sin-binned.
The hosts took full advantage and quickly scored a converted try.
From the restart Northover and Danny Ruyssevelt put the pressure on the hosts and Leamington began to fight back.
The home side had seemed content to kick the ball out of defence to stem attacks which seemed to be the sensible option.
However, when the man chasing the kick was an unwilling forward it gave Ryan Byrne the chance to quickly edge around him and race clear to score.
Northover was just off target with the difficult conversion attempt.
In a tight game momentum is key.
Leamington had been forced to use up the fresh legs available on the bench from as early as the 15th minute.
Therefore, in the closing quarter they were unable to introduce any impact players and the gas in their tanks was disappearing.
As this happened, the hosts took full advantage with another two late scores to make a close encounter look like a convincing victory at 28-5.