Northover puts seal on win for upwardly mobile Leamington
Leamington produced an outstanding all-round display to claim their third successive win, moving into mid-table in the process.
In a frenetic start to the game, Barkers’ Butts pressed the home line only for Toby Bruce’s superb tackle to win back possession and earn his side a penalty. Leamington kicked to the far corner and, after winning the lineout forced the visitors back at pace, winning a further penalty which Tom Jewitt drilled over to give his side an early lead.
The match continued to be played at a high tempo with Barkers’ looking very comfortable in attack. One promising incursion was abruptly halted by the swift intervention of Mark Baldwin who produced an all-encompassing tackle to stymie the flow. However, with 25 minutes on the clock, the hosts drew level with a penalty kick of their own.
A penalty decision in the home side’s favour allowed them to kick themselves into a good position in the far corner of the pitch. Quick handling from Aled Thomas and John Brear put the visitors on the back foot, leading to another penalty award. The Leamington attack was now in full flight and as the ball was recycled, scrum-half Patrick Northover was ideally placed to take the ball and swallow-dive over for a score near the posts. Jewitt added the extras.
With the half drawing to a close, Barkers’ added three more points to leave the game evenly poised at 10-6.
The gap was down to just a point with a third penalty for the visitors early in the second half.
Leamington responded by stealing possession in midfield to set up a break from prop Dan Barber who was halted inches from the line. The pressure ultimately brought about a penalty which Jewitt slotted over.
Further attacking opportunities fell for Barkers’ Butts which were met with watertight defending, Baldwin putting in two courageous tackles in quick succession to keep the line intact.
With the match on a knife-edge, Leamington finally set about taking control. Baldwin produced a mazy run and had Sam Nunn, Jewitt and Gareth Shuttleworth in full support, all four exchanging quick passes to bamboozle the Barkers’ Butts defence. With the tryline begging, Baldwin once again took the ball and forced his way over. Jewitt maintained his polished performance with the conversion.
The visitors took full advantage of two penalty decisions to kick themselves closer to the hosts’ score.
However, their indiscipline was to prove costly as they forfeited ground on several occasions through untimely conversations with the official. This in turn, had led to a couple of sessions in the sin-bin which Leamington used to their advantage.
To finally put the game to bed, Northover took possession at a scrum on the nearside flank in the last minutes of the game and sent over a delightful chip to winger Garrett Bell who forced his way over in the corner.