Old Coventrians 28 Leamington 22: Leamington deep in the mire after OCs reverse

Scott Peters creates an opening for Leamington in their clash at Old Coventrians. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
Scott Peters creates an opening for Leamington in their clash at Old Coventrians. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt

Midlands Three rugby looks a distinct possibility for Leamington next season after a sixth successive league defeat left them firmly in the drop zone.

In superb playing conditions, the home side immediately put pressure on their relegation rivals, with Jim Robertson having to clear his lines with a couple of timely kicks to touch.

OCs, however, continued to press and three missed tackles allowed them to cross for an early try.

Leamington responded in the best possible manner.

Nathan Earland created an overlap and found the tireless Mark Baldwin in support. As the home defence reacted, Baldwin cleverly drew his opposite number and then set Gareth Shuttleworth away, with the Spa back-row fending off a last-ditch tackle to get his side back on level terms.

Leamington now settled into a more pleasing rhythm, with Tom Greevy setting a fine example with a brace of thumping tackles and Shuttleworth producing another teasing run.

On the left flank, Jamie Harrison hit the home side with a couple of runs and this high-tempo play ultimately brought reward.

Robertson, Danny Ruyssevelt and Shuttleworth created the opening, following some slick inter-passing and the ball was switched to the open-side where Earland took possession to glide through the home defence and score.

The hosts hit back with a penalty before Leamington further increased the pressure with a well-worked try.

Winning a lineout in OCs’ 22, Greevy claimed possession and set up a drive towards the line. The pack moved the ball to Ruyssevelt on the blind side, who managed to get in a pass to Danny Phillips, enabling the Leamington prop to crash over for the score. Robertson’s conversion attempt dropped agonisingly short of the posts.

Any thoughts of a Leamington runaway victory were quickly put aside as OCs hit back with a forward-based try to close the deficit to two points at the break

The home side hit Leamington with a penalty goal and a converted score within the first five minutes of the second half to open up a 23-15 lead.

The game was then lit up by an exquisite piece of rugby as Spa secured possession via a scrum on the halfway line and Mark Baldwin broke through, finding Alex Carroll in support. With the defence backpedalling, Carroll flashed a timely pass into the grateful hands of Jamie Harrison who raced over for the bonus-point try. Robertson drilled over the conversion to cut the gap to a point.

However, Spa were affording the big OCs pack too much possession and this was to prove decisive as they lost the ball deep in defence. The home side’s forwards quickly capitalised, moving the ball out before creating enough space to break through and score.