Leamington’s first-half blitz kills of the challenge of neighbours Earlsdon

Leamington's forwards set up another attack. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
Leamington's forwards set up another attack. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
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A first-half performance of quite sublime rugby football from Leamington helped complete a league double over their near-neighbours.

A co-ordinated display, clearly emanating from the training ground, saw the Leamington pack take control of the game from the outset and thus give their back line plenty of opportunities to exploit, which they did with gusto.

Young prop Mark Humphreys continues to impress and has knitted seamlessly into a front row with Aled Thomas and Danny Phillips to form a very solid platform.

The hosts came under fire from the start when Toby Bruce broke and set winger Garrett Bell away for an initial assault on the Earlsdon defence.

The ball was recycled by the Leamington attack and when Earlsdon finally got the chance to kick themselves clear, their attempt fell into the grateful arms of debutant winger Jamie Anderson who quickly put his team back on the front foot.

The positive manner in which Leamington had begun brought its first reward in the 13th minute in not uncommon circumstances. Skipper Craig Smith claimed lineout ball on the Earlsdon 22 and his pack immediately set about a forceful drive. At the appropriate juncture, Lewis Kelsey took control and got the all-important touchdown. The conversion was slotted over by Tom Jewitt to begin a productive period for the visitors.

The alert Gareth Shuttleworth picked Earlsdon pockets with a neat steal and raced away before setting Patrick Northover up for try number two, obligingly converted by the sure-footed Jewitt.

It got worse for the hosts when Bell intercepted a stray pass and galloped over for try number three, duly finished off by Jewitt once again.

The pace of the Leamington attack was giving the home side little chance to settle on the ball or gain any descent possession and Leamington full-back Kenny Kwok’s first major contribution was to field a high clearance kick on the run and neatly set up Bell for another dart at the home defence.

When Leamington claimed possession from a lineout and set up another drive, the outcome was inevitable. This time, they chose to move the ball inside to the right and when Toby Bruce sent out a superbly timed pass to Bell, a try was assured.

Within minutes, Bell once again tormented the home defence with a powerful run, only to be thwarted by the intervention of three defenders.

As half-time approached, Earlsdon managed their first taste of the Leamington 22 metre zone, only to concede a penalty and allow the visitors to clear the danger.

Despite holding a 26-point lead, Leamington had more of a challenge in the second half as Earlsdon managed to get some momentum.

They opened up the half with a quick break upfield, which was halted by the timely intervention of Kwok.

This new-found belief was interrupted as the home side once again found themselves under pressure, Kelsey, Kwok and winger Jamie Anderson mounting a promising attack up the flank.

As the second period progressed it was the home side who made the first impact on the scoreboard courtesy of a penalty try.

Kwok pulled off a stunning head-on tackle to bring another Earlsdon attack to a halt and this was quickly followed by some stout defending from Thomas and Luca Illing, to keep the home side at bay.

A Jewitt penalty cooled the situation and although the home side did manage two further, unconverted, tries late on, they were well beaten on the day.