Leamington caught cold by second-half onslaught

Banbury Bulls' Joe Mills slips the tackle of Leamington's Mark Warrilow. Picture: Banbury Guardian
Banbury Bulls' Joe Mills slips the tackle of Leamington's Mark Warrilow. Picture: Banbury Guardian
  • Midlands Two West (South)
  • Banbury 55 Leamington 12

A quick glance at the scoreline indicates how brutal life can be in Midlands Two West (South) for struggling sides, disguising the effort put in by the Leamington squad and the amount of possession they enjoyed, particularly in the first period.

However, playing against a very competent outfit, Leamington were once again left to count the cost of slack tackling in crucial areas of the park.

From the outset, Banbury showed why they sit comfortably at the top of the table with some incisive attacking play. Jim Robertson cleared their first foray with a well-struck kick to touch and then the combined efforts of John Raby and new-boys Andrew Armstrong and Ed Boxall were called upon to smother a direct assault up the nearside touchline.

Having dealt with this initial pressure, Leamington responded with some clever attacking play of their own. Joe Walton and number eight John Brear worked the ball from the scrum and, with Boxall and Robertson in support, created some deep gaps in the home defence.

However, the visitors lost possession in the Banbury 22 and allowed the hosts the space to mount a response that resulted in a try.

Leamington once again tried to create an opening with some excellent play from the forwards. The bulk of Mark Warrilow, Simon Harry and John Brear bore down on the Banbury line and the defenders were relieved to finally clear the danger.

This impressive response was halted by the devastating pace of Banbury on the counter.

The home side moved the ball swiftly up the far-side wing and, while poor handling initially let them down, they continued to press and finally forced their way over for another unconverted score.

Leamington then let themselves down with three missed tackles in open play giving the hosts the simplest of scores to them into a slightly misleading 17-0 interval lead.

The start of the second half will definitely be one that Leamington will want to forget as they fell to the pace, power and higher fitness levels of Banbury, shipping four tries.

When Leamington did finally get on the scoresheet, it was courtesy of an immense effort from the pack.

Awarded a scrum in the Banbury 22, their forwards gathered up a head of steam and pushed the home scrum back over their try line, allowing Brear to cap a fine individual performance with the touchdown. Jim Robertson added the conversion.

Not surprisingly, Banbury were quick to hit back with a converted score, although in the closing moments of the game, Leamington got the final points of the afternoon with a try.

With Banbury finding themselves having to defend deep, they conceded a penalty, which Boxall took quickly to power over.