Leamington give their hosts a tough afternoon but their inability to get the better of them at crucial times contributed to their defeat.
Leamington conceded a try in the opening minutes and the solid Coventry outfit looked as though they could run riot on a bitterly cold spring afternoon.
However, after regrouping, Leamington put together some enterprising play of their own.
Craig Smith secured possession at an early set-piece, allowing his forwards to drive him close to the Barkers line but, disappointingly, they conceded a penalty and the attack fizzled out.
Leamington continued to press and following a forceful run from Smith, the half-back partnership of Joe Walton and Sam Nunn showed their class with some slick handling, enabling the ball to be presented to John Holland on the burst for his first charge of the afternoon.
The hosts then returned to the attack and both Will Fievet and Smith put in trysaving tackles in their 22 to prevent Leamington falling further behind.
As Barkers tried to press home their advantage, Nunn came to Leamington’s rescue with a series of long clearance kicks to touch. Toby Bruce and Ryan Byrne pulled off several last-ditch tackles before the hosts’ pressure finally paid off, creating an overlap on the wing for a converted score.
As the half drew to a close, Leamington regained the momentum with some strong drives from John Brear and Simon Harry and a break from Holland which resulted in a penalty, slotted over by Fievet, to bring it back to 12-3 at the interval.
After the restart, Leamington were forced to defend in depth and received a let-off when the hosts’ overzealous attacker inadvertently crossed the dead-ball line when a try looked a certainty.
Desperate to get back into the game, Leamington began to put some decent attacks together and a superb drive by Brear got them positioned in Barkers Butts’ 22. The attack moved towards the wing, but possession was lost and the home winger set off on a run that eventually led to a try and a 16-point advantage for the hosts.
Leamington’s forwards had been buoyant all afternoon, with Mark Warrilow, Scott Peters and Tom Greevy putting in a very solid shift in the front row against tough opposition and it was Peters who set up a chance for Leamington to get back into the game. His penetrating run ended just short of the posts and the visitors’ pack secured possession, allowing Nunn to get the ball out to Holland. In anticipation of another direct run from the Leamington centre, the home defence were caught cold as he sent out a long pass to winger Ryan Byrne who gratefully accepted the chance to race over.
The home side suddenly lost their composure and this led to a period of disarray resulting in them receiving two yellow cards.
Leamington seized the advantage and Peters and Holland put in excellent drives in a bid to get to an all-important, and potentially bonus-point, score.
However, anticipation suddenly turned to desperation as the home side, against the odds, scored a try.
This was a big disappointment to the visitors and although they were able to score another try, a fine individual effort from Fievet, they unable to gain any material reward.