Five-try Leamington turn the tide to leave Dunlop feeling flat
Leamington put in a superb second-half performance at Dunlop to run in five tries and come away with a hard-earned bonus-point victory.
In cold, windy conditions, Leamington were soon out of the blocks and with barely two minutes on the clock, Tom Lane claimed lineout ball and set his forwards on a drive deep in Dunlop territory which almost led to a score.
Then winger Kenny Kwok fielded a high clearance kick and set off on a run that nearly unlocked the home defence.
However, this high-tempo start by the visitors was abruptly halted when Dunlop caught them napping at a lineout, leading to the simplest of tries.
Regrouping his forwards, skipper Craig Smith led the response, taking lineout possession and driving to the Dunlop line before unleashing the ball to Patrick Northover who raced in on the blindside for the try.
This solid work from the Leamington pack was further rewarded when prop Mark Warrilow got the all-important touchdown after another forceful drive.
Gareth Shuttleworth put in an important tackle to rescue the situation after a Dunlop interception but shortly after, the hosts regained the lead with a converted score following a lineout close to the Leamington line.
As the half-time whistle beckoned, Leamington thought they had scored following another piece of enterprise from Smith. However, the referee spotted a double movement.
Leamington penned Dunlop back in their half at the start of the second period and after a sustained period of hard work the hosts looked to have retrieved the situation by winning a scrum, albeit close to their line.
The Leamington pack were more alert, though, and when they won the Dunlop put-in, Smith picked up at the base and raced through two bewildered defenders to score in the corner.
The lead was shortlived as Dunlop took advantage of a penalty to draw level.
However, once again, the tide was about to turn in favour of the visitors and this time the home side had nothing left in their tank by way of a response.
Tom Daplyn cut the sweetest of lines to take possession and race to the Dunlop line. The defenders ushered him towards the bulky post guards, which prevented a score and it looked as though this gilt-edged chance had gone begging. However, the Leamington support swooped in and as the ball was fed out wide, Aled Thomas took possession and was over in the corner. From wide out, Tom Jewitt was just off target, with his conversion attempt hitting a post.
This score opened up a sparkling spell of inventive rugby from the visitors and finally put the game beyond Dunlop.
A Dunlop clearance kick fell into the grateful hands of Aled Thomas who made some ground before releasing Kwok whose mesmerising run completely outfoxed the home defence and allowed him to touch down under the posts.
For once in the afternoon, Jewitt was given a clearcut chance for the conversion, which he duly accepted.