In-form Southam edged an entertaining derby encounter at home to Old Leamingtonians, with Harry Hewson’s neatly taken drop goal six minutes from time proving the difference.
After heavy overnight rain made the main three pitches unplayable, the Southam management did a fantastic job of preparing the fourth pitch, which despite being good underfoot, afforded little width for expansive backs play.
However, both sides looked to play attractive rugby and it was OLs who opened the scoring with a long-range penalty from stand-off Brad James.
Southam responded with several forays into OLs’ 22 and, after ten minutes, the ball was driven on to the posts by the forwards. With the backs lined up to his right, Hewson drifted left, drew the defenders and then released captain Will Grindal who cut through for the try and then converted.
Justin Urbanas then crashed through the line and made 20 metres before feeding out of the tackle for forward Liam Monro to go over unchallenged.
Grindal again converted for a 14-3 lead.
It was then OLs turn to take the game to Southam.
After well-directed touchline kicks, the visitors’ lighter pack forced their opposite numbers back and hooker Reece Jones broke through to touch down wide out on the right.
An excellent conversion kick from James brought OLs back into striking distance, but a penalty for not rolling away, converted by Grindal, allowed Southam to inch further ahead.
With errors creeping into Southam’s play, OLs took advantage to score two catch-and-drive tries, both touched down by Joe Tallamini.
James converted one of them to move OLs into a five-point lead as half-time approached.
However, the sides were to go in at the break level after a Southam scrum on half-way produced the platform for the best try of the afternoon.
Scrum-half Jay Ellerington broke blind and drew two defenders before feeding Ally Thorpe. The winger made good ground over the 22 and powered around two defenders to score an unconverted try in the corner.
With the wind and slope in their favour the large crowd were expecting Southam to take control in the second half but it was OLs who were first on the scoreboard, Sam Brittain intercepting and racing in from the half-way line for a try converted by James.
Southam struggled for 20 minutes to stay in the OLs half with a lack of clean possession from their own lineout and the penalty and error count growing. Eventually they put some phases together and drove down the pitch using tight crash ball.
Monro broke through on the 22 and, after he was held up on the line, the referee adjudged OLs to be deliberately offside from the subsequent scrum, awarding a penalty try converted by Grindal to restore parity.
With ten minutes remaining, Southam were awarded a penalty and kicked for a lineout in OLs’ 22. A penalty was signalled at the lineout and Hewson took the opportunity for a speculative drop goal, which just crept over.
Southam still struggled to close the game out, though, allowing OLs three more visits to their 22 before the whistle.