Sound defence and clinical finishing help Leamington edge out Barkers’

Garrett Bell in full flow for Leamington in their Midlands Two West (South) clash with Barkers' Butts. Picture: Morris Troughton
Garrett Bell in full flow for Leamington in their Midlands Two West (South) clash with Barkers' Butts. Picture: Morris Troughton
  • Midlands Two West (South)
  • Leamington 12 Barkers’ Butts 8

Leamington can look back on this victory with a sense of achievement after withstanding a second-half barrage to edge further clear of the drop zone.

Hampered by a very heavy pitch, Leamington began positively and their first impact was courtesy of a clever cross-field kick from winger Garrett Bell which almost caught the visitors cold.

Patrick Northover and Aled Thomas then linked intelligently on the flank to get Danny Ruyssevelt away for a break, while Bell was on hand to produce a granite-like stance to stop Barkers’ first real attacking move.

However, the visitors took the lead in the 17th minute with an unconverted try following a successful scrum.

The response from Leamington was quick and almost brought reward.

Full-back Sam Nunn collected a high clearance kick from Barkers’ Butts and quickly delivered his booty to the ever-willing Bell who, with an impressive turn of speed, cut a dash through the visitors’ defence. Bruce and Northover, linked to carry the move closer to the try line but despite support from Aled Thomas and Danny Ruyssevelt the final pass went astray.

This relief was short-lived for Barkers’, however.

A misfield following a scrum was pounced on by Toby Bruce and the fleet-footed centre raced under the posts to get his side back on equal terms.

Tom Jewitt added the extras to warm a large Vice-Presidents Day crowd and give the hosts a 7-5 interval lead.

The visitors regained the lead from a penalty after the restart and began to set about Leamington who needed calm nerves in defence to weather the storm.

Barkers’ were full of positive running during this period and it took some keen tackling to keep them at bay.

One factor that helped the home side was the manner in which their pack were coming to terms with the opposition and were now starting to boss play, skipper Craig Smith proving particularly adept at taking the sting out of the game when the hosts found themselves under pressure.

Despite being under the cosh, Leamington’s afternoon was to take a turn for the better, courtesy of a piece of clinical rugby.

Bell, who had been a constant threat with his high-tempo play, claimed possession on the wing, cut inside and linked up with fellow winger Connor Chamberlain who hit the gas pedal and broke up the middle of the park. He had Ruyssevelt and Bruce in support and when these two exchanged quick passes, Bruce found the room to dart over for the try.

The score was welcome respite and although the visitors once again tried to get back into the game, they found Leamington in no mood to co-operate.

As the match entered its final stages, Barkers’ Butts became encamped in the hosts’ 22 and tried their utmost to break the home team’s resolve.

They put Leamington under pressure with a number of scrums but each time they came away fruitless.

Finally, Jewitt got the ball into touch and the referee obliged with the final whistle.