Leamington lose thriller on the road at Berkswell & Balsall - The Leamington Observer

Leamington lose thriller on the road at Berkswell & Balsall

Steve Carpenter 22nd Feb, 2017 Updated: 23rd Feb, 2017   0

RUGBY UNION: LEAMINGTON produced a performance that would have made former club patron Brian Griffin proud but it was not enough to get past Berkswell & Balsall as they lost 43-33 in Saturday’s Midlands 2 West South encounter.

The fixture was overshadowed by Griffin’s death last Friday and after a minutes’ silence was held ahead of kick-off, both sides produced an entertaining game which Griffin would have relished.

Leamington could not have wished for a better start when with three minutes played skipper Craig Smith claimed the ball from a line-out and set the pack up for an unstoppable maul which ended with Lewis Kelsey touching down. Ben Jenkins stepped up to slot over the conversion and get his side an early seven point lead.

Despite the promising start, incredibly the visitors found themselves seven points adrift after Berkswell scored two converted tries to turn the game on its head.

Another try for the home side left Leamington 12 points behind but the stopped the rot with some attacking flair of their own.

With Leamington regaining some of their composure, they won a scrum from which the ball came free to Northover and the alert scrum-half set off on a sprint down the blindside, evading the home defence with a clever swerve before crossing for a try.

Jenkins, in good kicking form, obliged with the conversion but in what was turning out to be a very entertaining and high scoring game, Berkswell had the final say of the half with another converted try to hold a 26-14 lead at the break.

The second period started very disappointingly for Leamington as they conceded another converted score with barely any seconds on the clock.

They quickly put this behind them with a period of sustained pressure paying a dividend as another Leamington rolling maul was finished off by Craig Smith, allowing Jenkins the chance to kick his side to 21 points.

With the game once again turning in favour of the home side, the robust Berkswell side hit back once again with another seven point score to draw away from their stubborn opponents.

The introduction of Mark Warrilow, Simon Harry and Luca Illing gave Leamington some momentum and brought reward when another lineout and drive gave Gareth Shuttleworth the chance to claim an unconverted score.

The intensity of the game was giving the crowd plenty of excitement and Leamington were about to increase the tempo with some excellent play by Craig Smith.

His burst of pace and chip into the home red zone was going to be collected by Shuttleworth but for a clear tug by an opponent. From the scrum Smith once again took control of and gave a try scoring pass to Jenkins who strolled up to claim maximum points for his side.

With just a seven point gap separating the two sides, Leamington looked in the ascendancy and had chances to put pressure on the home defence but a late Berkswell penalty saw the hosts put the game out of reach.

Leamington return to league duty in two weeks time with a home game against Dunlop.


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