Leamington ease relegation fears with workmanlike win over Old Ed's
In the murky mist of Moorefields, Leamington put in a defiant and workmanlike performance to run out worthy winners to put some daylight between themselves and the bottom group.
In a low-scoring match, Leamington had the first opportunity to get points on the board when Tom Jewitt took advantage of a penalty award to kick his side into the corner. However, in claiming the lineout possession, Leamington were deemed to have offended and the chance went begging.
The hosts kept up the pressure, with Craig Smith once again dominating the lineout and they took the lead in the 16th minute with a well-worked try.
A run from Gareth Shuttleworth broke through the defence, giving centre Toby Bruce a chance to try and force his way over. The initial attempt failed and when the Leamington pack swooped in to support, Scott Peters claimed possession and put his side in a strong position. The ball was finally moved out and quick handling from Patrick Northover and Jewitt provided the opening for debutant winger Rich Mullis to crash over in the corner.
The visitors’ response was immediate and the Leamington defence, although creaking at times, held firm as a couple of determined tackles from Ed Thompson saw off the danger.
Having weathered the storm, the hosts increased their lead following a couple of strong runs from Toby Bruce, with his direct running earning a penalty which Jewitt slotted over with aplomb.
Once again Old Ed’s responded with gusto and this time they did come away with some reward.
The alarm bells began when Rich Mullis had to race back and put in a try-saving tackle under his posts. Then Bruce had to intervene to call a halt to another penetrative attack. However, this respite was short-lived as the visitors’ pressure finally earned them an unconverted try to close the gap to 8-5 at the interval.
Old Ed’s made a promising start to the second half with a period of sustained pressure in the Leamington 22 and it took some quick thinking from Shuttleworth to alleviate the pressure, with a run and kick out of defence. The visitors did, however, keep up the tempo of their play and were rewarded with a penalty to draw level.
When Leamington finally managed to break the stranglehold they won a penalty which Jewitt converted to once again give his side a slender lead.
This score seemed to steady the hosts and they quickly built on the advantage.
A dash out of defence saw the home side create a good opening, with Bruce and winger Dave Cotton exploiting the far-side flank.
The hosts then increased their lead further with some enterprising play.
Having forced a scrum, Smith claimed possession and pushed forward. The Old Ed’s defence seemed to have contained the break. However, Bruce and full-back Adam Preece took up possession, exchanged passes and found a gap. With the Old Ed’s defenders expecting the ball to be spread out wide, Bruce raced through on the blind side to get the all-important touchdown.
In the closing seconds of the match, Old Ed’s went over for a consolation try but it was Leamington’s day.