OLD LEAMINGTONIANS remain only one of two sides in the Midlands West 3 (South) who remain unbeaten this season after narrowly getting the better of Rugby St Andrews 24-22 at Bericote Road, reports Les Grafton.
OLs headed into Saturday’s clash high in confidence on the back of a draw and two wins but they were six points down within the first four minutes.
The hosts got three points back but again Rugby scored their third penalty of the match to move 3-9 down.
On 25 minutes an over enthusiastic encounter led to an OLs player being binned for a perceived tip tackle but they were still able to score the first try of the match when Ciaran O’Connor score but the conversion attempt was wayward.
From the kick off an OLs forward tried to rumble the opposition but infringed again and the scoreboard ticked over to 8-12 but five minutes before the break OLs rallied again and an impressive run by Adam Stannard switched inside to Talimini only to see the next pass inside pulled back for crossing.
Three further penalties against OLs kept them at bay and one added three more points to St Andrew’s tally going in 8-15 at the break.
Rugby started the second half strongly but on 59 minutes OL’s chasing game and aggressive rucking gained the home side a much needed three points to keep them in contention at 11-15.
Inevitably the pendulum swung again with Rugby St Andrew’s wily no 11 bursting through to score a converted try to make the score 11-22.
But yet again OLs refused to face defeat and heavy pressure led to Tom Eales charging down a clearance kick which eventually fell to winger Adam Stannard who scored in the corner but the conversion was missed for 16-22.
On 62 minutes yet another penalty from the re-start gave Rugby a chance to pull away further but this was missed and that proved to be a critical moment in the match.
Two minutes later Talimini was sin-binned for a trip but the penalty was missed again and despite the loss of a player OLs picked up the aggression and scrum half Toby Lord started using the quick penalty as a weapon eventually having a St Andrews player sent for ten minutes in the bin.
OLs took the game on with their numerical advantage and after Rugby infringed again, second row Rhys Tristan Cory burst through to score and moved OLs back to within just one point.
Despite OLs spilling the restart, in their desperation to kill time, St Andrews infringed again and saw a third man binned leaving them briefly with 12 men.
OLs had enough experience to manage the game and exploit the holes. In the final minutes another Rugby infringement led to skipper James stepping up and slotting home the kick to finally put OLs in the lead at 24-22 and when the final whistle went, the crowd erupted with a mixture of relief and admiration.