Leamington Royals got their Midlands Premier campaign back on track with their first-ever victory over visitors Birmingham Bulldogs.
After an even opening 15 minutes, Leamington twice came close to crossing only to be twice held up over the line by the spirited Bulldogs defence.
Their pressure eventually told when hooker Simon Gardner crossed for the game’s first points , throwing a dummy and going in under the posts, Tom Hyam converting.
Bulldogs’ influential fullback was shown a yellow card following a fracas and Leamington immediately went on the offensive, Danny Alexander bulldozing his way over against his former club to help open up a 12-0 interval lead.
Five minutes into the second half, Royals’ debutant full-back Luke Dunne fielded a crossfield kick and fed the ball to Gardner who went almost the length of the field, only to be held up ten metres out. The ball was quickly recycled to second-row Joe Talamini who crossed for his first Royals try. Hyam slotted over the difficult conversion.
Royals then took their foot off the gas and, following the concession of a fourth straight penalty, Gardner was shown a yellow card.
Just as Leamington did in the first half, the Bulldogs pressed home their man advantage and scored two quickfire converted tries to narrow the deficit to six points.
However, restored to 13 men, Leamington reasserted their control.
Andy Morrison, revelling in his new loose forward role, forced a knock on after another brutal tackle and this led to the try of the game.
Dunne hit the line at pace and a brilliant pass found winger James Urquhart who steamed over to score his first try for Royals.
The final try of the game came from prop Ben Nuttall who wriggled over with three Bulldog players hanging off him to complete a 26-12 success.