Leamington tough it out to pick up an opening-day win

Harry Gooch on the burst for Leamington at Pinley. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
Harry Gooch on the burst for Leamington at Pinley. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt

Winger Garrett Bell and locks Tom Lane and Jacob Buckingham enjoyed debuts to remember as Leamington earned a hard-fought opening-day win under new coach Alex Carroll.

After a spell of Pinley pressue was repelled, Leamington opened the scoring with a penalty from Ben Jenkins.

With the momentum with them Leamington went further ahead with a try courtesy of some individual flair from Jenkins.

The centre intercepted a laboured pass as Pinley tried to run the ball out of their 22 and got quick ball to Bell on the wing. Although the Pinley defence reacted to the danger, they were unable to compete with Bell’s pace and he touched down in the corner.

Leamington were certainly the more mobile of the two sides and their play seemed to have more of a pattern to it than the hosts.

The home side nearly fell further behind when the alert Gareth Shuttleworth pounced on a stray pass and set off on a run upfield. However, his crossfield kick deep into Pinley territory just failed to reach the support and the danger passed.

The game was being played at a high tempo and Pinley took advantage of two misdemeanours by Leamington to kick themselves back into contention.

As the half drew to a close, Pinley began to press home the attack with a concerted effort in the far corner.

John Holland took on Pinley single-handedly to stop one incursion, while Smith and Danny Ruyssevelt’s combined tackling stemmed another and there were clear signs of relief when Lewis Kelsey stole the ball from the scrum, eventually allowing Tom Jewitt to clear the ball to touch to end a frenetic half.

The half-time interval had probably fallen just at the right time for Leamington, for although Pinley started the second period on the attack, they were unable to replicate their efforts just prior to the break.

In contrast, Leamington were showing good cohesion in attacking situations and it was therefore no surprise when they went further ahead.

A quick interchange of passes between Harry Gooch and Tom Jewitt opened up space for Jenkins to break cover. The centre made a lengthy sprint and although he was caught on the line, his strength took him over. Jewitt added the conversion to give his side further daylight.

Leamington now had to defend at length with the boot of Jewitt coming to their rescue on a number of occasions and some full-on tackling from Holland setting down a marker for his team-mates to match.

This endeavour from the visitors was a defining feature of the match and despite Pinley hitting back with a penalty, their joy was short-lived as Jewitt’s boot once again gave his side a clear margin with another well-struck goal kick.