Leamington 8 Bridgnorth 32: Bridgnorth emphasise their superiority late on

Leamington fly-half Gus Gillespie looks for support against Bridgnorth. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
Leamington fly-half Gus Gillespie looks for support against Bridgnorth. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt

League standings pointed to a difficult afternoon for Leamington but it was only in the latter stages of the second period that this Intermediate Cup second round tie was finally decided.

Patrick Northover got Leamington off to a good start with an early penalty goal.

However, the visitors soon showed why they are top of their league as they responded almost immediately with an unconverted try.

The pitch was heavy under foot following the incessant rain prior to kick-off and handling was difficult for both sides.

Despite this, Northover did his utmost to provide good ball from the scrum to get his back line moving.

Fly-half Fergus Gillespie continued his promising start to first team rugby with some clever kicking and good movement with the ball.

Leamington were, though, finding it difficult to get their attack going for concerted periods and at times had to defend in depth.

When Bridgnorth’s big pack were allowed too much room, they found a gap in the Spa defence and crashed over for a converted score.

As the half drew to a close, Leamington did have some quality possession and showed during these periods that the game was still there to be won.

The pack, although conceding weight, showed plenty of guile.

Craig Smith and Tom Greevy once again worked well in the lineout and Gareth Shuttleworth produced another superb individual performance, using his tackling skills to disrupt the opposition.

This passage of play almost saw Leamington unlock the Bridgnorth defence courtesy of an excellent break by winger Ryan Byrne but they had to be content with a nine-point deficit at the break.

Bridgnorth began the second period on the front foot and Shuttleworth put in a try-saving tackle to thwart an early attack.

However, the visitors continued to apply pressure and when they won possession, they took the opportunity to whip the ball along the backline, scoring in the nearside corner.

Leamington were quick to respond to this setback, with centre Clive Jackson gaining the ball and setting in motion a counter-attack.

Spa got the ball out to Byrne, who used his pace to outstrip the Bridgnorth defence and race over.

Northover was just off target with the conversion attempt.

Although this was not the last of Leamington’s attacking play, they did concede three further tries, the last proving a particular disappointment as Craig Smith had raced back to pull off a breathtaking tackle only to see the ball fall invitingly for Bridgnorth to score.