Leamington’s attack makes light work of the heavy conditions

Gareth Shuttleworth races in for Leamington's final try against Nuneaton Old Edwardians. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
Gareth Shuttleworth races in for Leamington's final try against Nuneaton Old Edwardians. Picture: Gina Ruyssevelt
  • Midlands Two West (South)
  • Leamington 43 Nuneaton Old Edwardians 30

A seven-try haul and a bonus-point win lifted Leamington into fifth spot in the league with eight games still to play.

The heavy conditions underfoot were not ideal for running rugby. However, Leamington made the most of them with some electrifying attacking play, especially in the pivotal last quarter of the match.

The hosts’ pack were also once again in top form, rock-steady in the set scrum and positive in the lineout.

Leamington got off to an excellent start and from the first scrum, winger Garrett Bell’s explosive run into the visitors’ half created space for John Brear and then Gareth Shuttleworth to open up the Nuneaton defence. The latter was felled unfairly and, from the resulting penalty, the hosts kicked themselves into a good position in the top corner of the pitch.

Securing lineout ball, the Leamington pack forced their way towards the try line. However Nuneaton’s solid defence held firm, eventually overturning possession and winning a scrum.

Nuneaton appeared to have averted the danger but their clearance kick fell into the hands of Bell who quickly spread the ball inside allowing Danny Ruyssevelt to draw in the defence and then send Jamie Harrison away for a score in the corner.

Tom Jewitt was just off target with the difficult conversion attempt.

This promising start soon stuttered when, almost from the restart, the visitors won a penalty and took the easy three points on offer.

In challenging conditions, Leamington began to impose themselves on the game and when Jim Robertson sent out a teasing kick up the flank, winger Jamie Harrison won the chase to set his side on the attack.

Play moved quickly across the park before Jewitt took control and sent Bell away with a superbly timed pass. The winger’s direct run sucked in the Nuneaton defence and afforded him the space to get the ball to Richie McKowen who raced in to score.

After conceding another penalty goal, Leamington increased their lead following good work from Bell and Robertson, which opened up the play for Shuttleworth to claim possession and sprint in under the posts.

Jewitt slotted the conversion to give his side an 11-point cushion.

Nuneaton had tested the home line during the first half but were only able to produce a to spell of sustained pressure as the half drew to a close. Initially, the home defence held firm, although a number of penalties were now being conceded.

Inevitably, this led to a yellow card for the hosts and Nuneaton seized the opportunity to score in the corner to bring it back to 17-11 at the interval.

The second period began poorly for Leamington as the man advantage once again proved crucial, allowing Nuneaton to open with a converted score.

Leamington regrouped and were back in front after a testing kick into the Nuneaton half was chased down by the effervescent Bell who won the sprint to get the all-important touchdown.

Jewitt once again obliged with the conversion.

This score was the precursor to a period of superb entertainment for the neutral, though, not necessarily for either side’s coaching staff as the points came thick and fast.

A converted score took the lead back into Nuneaton’s hands before Leamington regained it courtesy of a drive from a lineout, with Northover getting the final hand on the ball.

Then, with a man back in the sin-bin, Leamington conceded another try which put the visitors in front by a single point.

The away support, now very vociferous and wildly over-confident, seemed to have forgotten the old adage regarding fat ladies and were quickly reminded of it by Leamington scrum-half Northover who instigated the final surge by fielding a clearance kick deep in his own half and setting off on a blistering run down the wing.

The speed of the attack caught the visitors’ defence cold and, with Ruyssevelt now adding support, the ball was off-loaded to Jim Robertson, who raced in under the posts.

Jewitt’s conversion finished off this excellent attack and gave his side a slender but crucial, six-point lead.

Now struck dumb, the visiting support realised they were no longer in contention and when Shuttleworth darted in for a final score for his side, Leamington were worthy winners of a fiercely contested match.

The obliging Jewitt put the final nail in the coffin with the conversion.