Boxhall’s late try is just reward for Leamington’s improved efforts

Leamington's Ryan Byrne, ball in hand, just about to set Ed Boxhall off on the attack. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
Leamington's Ryan Byrne, ball in hand, just about to set Ed Boxhall off on the attack. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
  • Midlands Two West (South)
  • Leamington 15 Spartans 13

Leamington finally gained some reward for another quality performance after coming up just short in recent weeks.

Just past the quarter-hour, the Leamington pack took control of the ball deep in the Spartans 22. Gareth Shuttleworth recycled the ball back into his forwards several times before unleashing it to his back line. The pace of the attack caught the visitors’ defence cold and Ryan Byrne took possession on the wing, cut inside and raced over to score.

The response from the visitors was quick and positive. They moved the ball up the wing and Toby Bruce had to be alert to get in a clearance kick. Alex Carroll put in a timely tackle to prevent a certain score and the fly-half was then on hand to give his side some respite with a deep kick to touch.

This intense passage of play from Spartans earned some reward when an infringement led to three points.

The visitors continued to press the Leamington line and, with a try beckoning, Simon Harry stepped in to bring the attack to an abrupt and painful halt and ensure Leamington retained their 5-3 lead at the interval.

Confidence was becoming more visible in the Leamington side and they started the second period on the attack.

Danny Phillips raced up the nearside wing before setting Aled Thomas up to continue the drive upfield. The big prop had support from the pack and the visitors were forced to halt matters unfairly, earning Leamington a penalty.

In difficult conditions underfoot, Will Fievet stepped up and drilled the ball clean between the posts to give his side a five-point lead.

However, midway through the half, the visitors struck twice in quick succession, using the pace in their attack to cut down the far wing and add two unconverted tries.

The scene was set for a thrilling last ten minutes and, with time ticking down, Byrne used his guile and pace to break upfield. As the defence ushered him towards touch, he managed to squeeze the ball inside to the ever-willing Ed Boxhall. The Leamington centre hit the gas, brushed aside the visitors’ defenders and, under advice from the home support, obliged with a score under the posts.

Fievet calmly stepped up and stroked the ball over to give his side a crucial two- point victory.

Blood pressure levels were now becoming dangerous and they were not helped with a premature final whistle.

Although when it did finally come, the relief in the home support was palpable.