OLD Leamingtonians maintained their unbeaten start to the 2016/17 season after recording a narrow 22-21 victory away at Old Wheatleyans, reports Denis Fisher.
The heavy rain had stopped at Norman Place Road for this Midlands 3 West (South) clash and it was the visitors who took the game to the hosts early on.
With just two minutes on the clock their pressure paid off when a sweeping move resulted in winger Adam Stannard crossed for the opening try but the conversion attempt by Brad James was pushed wide.
OLs continued to apply pressure as the hosts struggled to get into the game and the lead was stretched in the 10th minute when following a series of mauls, Tom Smith crossed to score the second try which again was unconverted.
OWs began to get more into the game and a period of play followed with both teams having good possession but the two defences were evenly matched and it wasn’t until the 25th minute that any further score arose.
This time it was OWs that created space with a long penalty kick which resulted in a lineout and the OWs pack mauled over the line the reduce the deficit to three points.
A harsh decision by the referee saw the visitors reduced to 14 men but despite being a man down OLs held out until half-time.
OLs were restored to 15 men when play resumed but within five minutes the match official dismissed OLs scrum half Toby Lord to the sin bin for handling the ball in the ruck.
The OLs defence managed to prevent any serious attempts by OWs to increase the home score and managed to retain the initiative.
With the ball now back in the OWs half, a series of forward drives saw OLs advancing on the home goal line ending with Tom Smith touching down for his second try to regain the lead for the visitors.
OLs were now under increased pressure and a period of play by the home side saw the heavier forwards cross the OLs goal line twice for two converted tries to move into a six point lead going into the last ten minutes of the game.
But yet again OLs came back strongly and restored to 15 men they were able steal a dramatic victory.
Eight minutes were added on for extra time and deep into that time OLs were awarded a penalty well inside the OWs 22 metre area. It was taken quickly and with the OLs forwards driving a tired OWs pack backwards, vice-captain Reece Jones managed to touch the ball down for the fourth and bonus point try.
Ciaran O’Connor took the all-important conversion to put OLs into a one point lead and as the ball sailed between the posts the match official blew his whistle for the end of the game.
This Saturday Old Leamingtonians visit the Crofts of Rugby St Andrews (3pm).