Leamington left the rolling hills of Worcestershire disappointed not to have come away with a victory, with a couple of lapses in discipline and a poor ten-minute spell in the early part of the second half proving too much to overcome despite a rousing finish.
The coach journey to Malvern had no adverse effect as Leamington started the match at a high tempo with a forceful run from Ed Thompson.
Malvern got on the scoresheet in the tenth minute courtesy of a penalty and followed this up with a spell in attack, which was ended by some slick play from winger Garrett Bell. Alert to the pending danger, the fleet-footed Bell raced back in defence, gathered the ball and in one movement turned and volleyed it into touch.
Shortly after, Bell was instrumental in almost getting his side some points as his blistering pace cut through the home defence and forced an opening for Danny Ruyssevelt to exploit. However, the home cover just managed to get across in time and the chance was gone.
This ushered in a good period for Leamington as they set about a sustained period of attack.
The pack put Malvern under immense pressure and Leamington will be disappointed with the way they let the home side off the hook by falling foul of the referee’s whistle, conceding two further penalty goals and two yellow cards to go in 9-0 down at the break.
Craig Smith and Scott Peters combined to produce an opening for Bell to latch on to in the opening stages of the second period.
Finding themselves in another strong attacking position, Leamington then lost possession in the Malvern 22 and in the blink of an eye the home side moved the ball up the nearside flank to score a converted try. They followed this up with a penalty goal to stretch their advantage to 19 points.
Leamington’s response was brisk.
The restart drop-out from Sam Nunn was inch-perfect for his forwards to gather and when they continued to push upfield, the home side conceded a penalty which Leamington kicked for a lineout. The catch and drive from Smith caught the home defence cold and Lewis Kelsey was on hand to get the all-important touchdown.
The home side then capitalised on some very poor defensive play to race ahead via two unconverted tries.
At this stage with the light fading, Leamington’s plight also looked grim. However, to their immense credit, they forced their way back into the game.
The lineout was the catalyst for this grandstand finish, with Kelsey twice on hand to get the ball over the line to complete his hat-trick.
However, with Leamington now in the ascendancy, the full-time whistle signalled the end of their comeback hopes.