Southam pull away in the closing stages to earn derby bragging rights

Leamington's Scott Peters can find no way through. Pictures: Morris Troughton
Leamington's Scott Peters can find no way through. Pictures: Morris Troughton
  • Midlands Two West (South)
  • Souham 28 Leamington 3

Southam completed a league double over Leamington in front of a large Captain’s Day crowd.

After a decisive bonus-point win in October, a casual observer might have written this game down as a home win, but with both teams having only secured one win from five over the festive period, it could have been tricky day for Southam.

Gareth Shuttleworth looks to stop the progress of Tom Grimes.

Gareth Shuttleworth looks to stop the progress of Tom Grimes.

The hosts stuttered at the start with a mistake from the kick-off handing Leamington the momentum and they remained on the front foot to earn a third-minute penalty for an infringement at the ruck, which was slotted over by Tom Jewitt.

With a stiff breeze in Southam’s faces, the rest of the first half was hard fought with both sides tackling aggressively.

The whistle-happy referee was awarding a succession of penalties and when tempers frayed, he yellow-carded Southam scrum-half Lewis Dodds and the Leamington number seven for handbags.

Leamington nearly unlocked the home defence when Patrick Northover and Sam Nunn exchanged passes at speed to get Lewis Kelsey away. However, with space limited, the attack was forced into touch.

A relentless flow of penalty decisions continued to disrupt the game and, as half-time approached, Southam captain Will Grindal levelled with a nicely converted 45-metre penalty into the breeze.

The second half struggled to get going as the referee continued to award a succession of penalties but Southam did gain early reward with a Grindal penalty, awarded for offside at the ruck.

As the half progressed, Southam gradually gained dominance from clean lineout ball through second-row Matt Taylor and driving runs from number eight James Finch, fly-half Tom Grimes and centres Will Wood and new-boy Richard Lloyd Jones.

However, it still took 30 minutes before they added to their tally following a period of possession inside the Leamington 22. A scrum seven metres out saw Finch pick up, break open and drive through for the try.

To compound Leamington’s misery, their restart failed to travel ten metres and from the scrum Southam broke blind and spread the ball to Russ King. The winger made ground up to the Leamington 22 and the ball was recycled twice before being shipped to Grindal, who found the gap and stepped the last man for a try he converted himself.

With the game into injury time, Leamington tried to force play and the ball was spilled on half-way. Southam winger Sam Bench hacked on into the Leamington 22, picked up and shrugged off the tacklers to go over for the try.

Play continued and six successive penalty awards from the referee meant the second half ticked over into the 52nd minute. A wayward pass forced Grimes to shrug off several tacklers on his 22-metre line and he then broke up the blindside before setting King off up the wing. King made 20 metres and laid off the ball to Taylor, who found Grindal. He in turn progressed to the Leamington five-metre line before laying the ball off for Jones to round off a thrilling try.