Nuneaton Old Eds 5 Leamington 30: Spa trip to Old Edwardians provides better memories

Fly-half Nathan Earland dives over for Leamington's second try at Nuneaton Old Edwardians last Saturday.
Fly-half Nathan Earland dives over for Leamington's second try at Nuneaton Old Edwardians last Saturday.

Leamington took full advantage of being able to field a strong squad to claim victory on a ground that has not favoured them in recent years.

Playing up the noticeable slope, Nuneaton began at a brisk pace and quickly penned Leamington inside their 22.

This early pressure was alleviated by the boot of full-back James Robertson, returning to first-team rugby after a long absence. He was soon called upon again, this time with a try-saving tackle as the hosts continued to press.

It was certainly a frenetic start to the game and Leamington had their first foray into the Nuneaton half with a strong run by Dan Kane following Craig Smith’s claim in the lineout.

The home side spurned the opportunity to take the lead as they pushed a penalty attempt wide of the posts. However, in the 20th minute, with Leamington continually under pressure, they swooped on an error near the line to touch down for an unconverted score.

Leamington responded by moving the ball upfield through Gareth Shuttleworth who won a penalty just inside the home half. Robertson hit the sweetest of kicks and the ball was still rising as it bisected the posts.

As the half progressed, Leamington began to impose themselves and an intelligent kick put pressure on the home defence, with good work from Shuttleworth and Joe Walton earning a scrum. Spa won the ball, steadied themselves and pushed over the line, with Tom Greevy touching down. Robertson added the conversion to give the visitors a 10-5 interval lead.

Nuneaton were again out of the blocks early after the break and Tom Greevy stopped one attack and then Tom Daplyn timed his hit perfectly to halt another threat. Such was the force of his tackle, the attacker lost possession and allowed Shuttleworth the time to gather the ball and put in an exquisite kick to touch.

Sensible management of the replacements brought new energy to the Spa attack and Lewis Kelsey took possession from a lineout and set Richard Smith up for a run. This was the beginning of a good period for the visitors and, as Nuneaton creaked, Robertson took advantage with two penalties to extend the lead to 11 points.

While, it was still anybody’s game, Leamington were having the better of the play now and started to sense a victory.

Another Earland kick put Daplyn in a position to challenge the defence and gain a penalty. Scott Peters accelerated in to tap and soak up the Nuneaton defenders before letting out a pass to Earland who coasted over. Robertson added the extras and the game was won.

Spa continued to impress and Patrick Northover took quick ball from a scrum in th e home 22, creating the opening for Lewis Kelsey to crash over for a final try, converted by the irrepressible Robertson.