OLD Leamingtonians Under-18s made a faltering start to 2016 as they succumbed to a narrow 10-18 defeat at home to Stratford.
On a heavy pitch, OLs had the benefit of the elements in the first half but failed to take sufficient advantage after holding a narrow five-point lead at half-time.
They made a promising start, threatening Stratford’s line from the kick off, but strong defence resisted for a time.
Eventually OLs scored through Jordi Pocknell who crashed over following a close range penalty.
OLs remained in control though Stratford were dangerous on the break, and stubborn in defence.
Matt Witchell failed to escape the final defender following a trademark interception and Nick Sapsford was penalised, correctly, for a double movement as he touched down on the left, while Stratford remained defiant and went into the break just one score behind.
Stratford now had the use of a fair breeze in the second half and kicked well through fly-half Josh Bloomfield making it difficult for OLs to gain a foothold in attack.
Stratford equalised following a spell of pressure, but OLs returned to the lead following a sustained forward drive, with Kyriakos Grammatopoulos dotting down by the left flag.
Stratford came once more and scored their second try, enabled by a clever obstruction, and Bloomfield added an excellent conversion to give Stratford the lead.
OLs were rattled and the game lost any pattern as conditions mitigated against running play.
OLs began to concede penalties, and Bloomfield kicked two to push Stratford further ahead. OLs were unable to respond allowing Stratford to emerge with a narrow but deserved victory.