OLD Leamingtonians maintained their impressive start to their new season in the Midlands 3 West (South) thanks to a narrow 25-24 home victory over Woodrush in Saturday, reports Denis Fisher.
It was a game of two distinct game plans at The Crofts with OLs electing to run the ball whenever possible and Woodrush elected to play the long kicking game to seek territorial advantage to allow their heavier pack to put the home defence under pressure.
The game kicked off favouring OLs with a light wind at their backs and they took the game to Woodrush from the start.
Pressure soon paid off after seven minutes when following good handling among the three-quarters, full back Andy Vennard overlapped to outrun the Woodrush defence to score wide out on the left and Brad James converted to give his side an early deserved lead.
On 12 minutes Woodrush conceded a penalty in the loose play and James again converted to push OLs ten points in front.
The game evened out at this stage and Woodrush, using the long kick ahead, began to put pressure on the home defence. Following a series of mauls the visitors scored with a push over try that was converted.
Further pressure from Woodrush saw OLs having to defend the 22 metre area for some time and it was no surprise when Woodrush scored a second try that was also converted to put the visitors into a four point lead, which was soon increased to seven after OLs conceded a penalty just inside their own half which was converted.
OLs responded well and on 30 minutes after a period of play in the Woodrush 22, the visitors’ defence was broken when their heavier pack was forced back over the line for back row Tom Heslop to touch down for an unconverted try.
The home support were then treated to a special try shortly after the half-hour mark.
The ball was fielded by OLs from a long kick ahead from Woodrush deep inside their own half and was run by both forwards and backs with the ball changing hands numerous times before winger Adam Stannard outstripped the Woodrush defence to touch down for san unconverted try.
The second half followed in a similar pattern to the first with Woodrush playing the long kicking game and OLs playing running rugby but it was the Woodrush game plan that brought about the next score when after a period of pressure on the home defence a try was scored and converted to give Woodrush the edge by four points.
From this point the game was even but the lighter OLs forwards were again taking control of the game and after a series of mauls in the visitors’ 22 Joe Talamini and Tom Heslop forced the ball over for Talamini to claim the try.
OLs entered the last ten minutes with a one point lead and defended well when called upon although they should have scored two more tries when it seemed easier to score than give the ball away before the visitors missed a late penalty.