Lions Claim League Title!
Banbury Lions secured their title as Champions of Warwickshire 1 this weekend with a hard-fought victory over Leamington. The final score was 25-12, with Banbury under serious pressure for large portions of the game.
Kenilworth Road – Saturday 22nd April 2017
Match report by Wes Hallam
Banbury came into the match having already technically secured the league title, but they wanted to end the season in style! Leamington had come into a run of good form, beating Stratford away, so came to the game brimming with confidence. It was a day to suit Banbury's open and flowing rugby, but they were denied the chance to play much of it by Leamington's very aggressive defence.
It quickly became clear that, after several attempts at bruising through the Leamington pack, Banbury would need to earn their victory; no walk-overs here! Banbury held onto possession well and made good yards when they had the ball, but were frustrated by the referee at times, giving away ball in vital areas.
Banbury looked most dangerous when in open play, and slicing runs from Callum O'Shea (13) and Harry Graham (11) set up a fantastic position in the Leamington 22, which Keiran Fitzgibbon was happy to barge-over from close range to open the scoring.
Leamington were not going to sit down and give Banbury an easy ride; direct running and poor Banbury tackling allowed them to easily gain yards when given the opportunity. However, Banbury's dominance at set-piece, especially at lineout, gave them an edge that was difficult for Leamington to overcome.
Often shortening the lineout, Banbury were effective in creating attacking ball from any position on the pitch. Seamus O'Dwyer (2) and Rory Diamond (1) pulled off a lovely move at the front of the lineout and made 40 yards down the line - no mean feat for front row on a hot day!
After a series of penalties from Leamington, and a well-executed peel move at the front of the lineout, Wes Hallam (7) took the ball with 3 yards to travel and, with only a winger to get through, scored another Banbury try.
Banbury managed to hold off Leamington for the remainder for the game, and whilst they leaked two tries they managed to resist Leamington from gaining too much momentum. Exceptional performances from O'Shea, man-of-the-match James Hibbert and Sam Mills rounded off a perfect season for Banbury. Final score, 25-12 to Banbury Lions.
Moving up to exciting new challenges, they are looking forward to next season and building on the phenomenal success they have had. On a personal level, it has been a pleasure to captain the side this year. Our success has only come from the commitment and effort from each member of the squad. In every game the work-rate and desire to perform has been unmatched by our opposition.