Play-off eye-opener for Royals at the hands of ruthless Dragons

Three Coventry Dragons players combine to stop Royals' Will Johnson. Picture: Tim Nunan
Three Coventry Dragons players combine to stop Royals' Will Johnson. Picture: Tim Nunan

A 54-20 defeat at Midland Premier League leaders Coventry Dragons leaves Leamington Royals needing to win their final match of the regular season at Nottingham Outlaws tomorrow to guarantee their place in the play-offs.

Qualification would set up a potential rematch against the unbeaten Dragons and Royals were given a close-up view of the ruthless efficiency needed to compete with the Coventry side.

In a frustrating opening for the visitors, they repeatedly dropped or had the ball stolen in attacking positions to relieve the pressure on Dragons who took advantage to score two quickfire converted tries.

Royals simplified their game and the first set played to completion was rewarded with a great kick-chase which allowed Nick Sprague to race over for a converted try.

Dragons hit back straight after the restart after a ferocious hit forced a knock-on, but Leamington responded when Steve Alford recovered his own kick to score wide out after good work from Ben Nuttall and Andy Morrison.

The game was being played at a high tempo and simple mistakes began to creep in to Leamington’s play, resulting in three more converted tries for the hosts and a 34 -10 interval lead.

The frenetic nature of the game continued after the break, with Royals regaining possession after a knock-on, allowing Morrison to take his try tally to 17 for the season.

Next, centre Paul Salvin collected the ball from the kick-off set and forced his way through a couple of tacklers before running in from half- way for a try converted by Tom Hyam.

The deficit was now down to 14 points and the game was in the balance with both sides spurning chances.

However, it was Coventry who showed more composure in the closing stages, adding another four tries to give the scoreline a rather lopsided look.