After a turbulent start, Spa began to get into a strong attacking mode again
Leamington brought the curtain down on another exhilarating season with a visit to Newbold, who still had an outside chance of a place in the end of term play-offs for promotion. Both sides have had an interesting season and at times, vied for top spot in the league. Leamington’s perennial problem of squad inconsistency continued as they were forced to use some sixty players in this campaign. They have, however, competed at a high standard in every fixture, and in a very tight league, they have shown that they are a match for any side.
Although Spa started the game at high tempo, they went behind to a converted score after losing possession in their 22 metre area and falling foul of Newbold’s pace on the wing. Centre, John Holland then turned up the pressure on the hosts with a lightening break of some 60 metres, up the centre of the park. Adam Preece was in support but was unable to shake off the attentions of the regrouped defenders.
Spa began to have upper hand at this stage and reduced the deficit with a penalty goal from “Patch” Northover. Then, as Newbold tried to break out of defence, Alex Carroll intercepted a loose pass and raced in between the posts, for a superb score, which Northover converted. Against a Newbold side with much at stake, Spa were looking very strong. The pack was dealing with Newbold’s robust forwards in the scrum and Craig Smith and Paul Troman were taking clean lineout ball, thus providing Spa with plenty of possession. Smith’s hard work around the park was also paying dividends, with some very strong running against a tough Newbold outfit.
The hosts had plenty of pace in their back division and towards the end of the half and in relatively quick succession; Spa fell behind to three tries, which undid all of their earlier hard work and effort.
Half time: 26 – 10
Spa were lucky not to concede further points in the opening moments of the second period as Newbold broke out of defence and raced down the nearside flank. Craig Smith latched on to the danger immediately and managed to outpace the attacker and put in a superb try saving tackle.
After this turbulent start, Spa began to get into a strong attacking mode again to put the home side under considerable and sustained pressure. Johnny Robertson hit the home side with a strong run up the middle of the park. Then Holland and Preece linked up to send Robertson off on a run down the wing that Newbold just managed to defend. On the opposite flank, Simon Mallard cut through the Newbold defence at pace and set the ball for Troman to have a run at Newbold.
All of this effort from Spa had failed to conjure up any points at this stage of the half and when Newbold hit back with a Try, the game went away from their grasp. They did, however, finish the stronger of the two sides and when Preece attacked at pace only to see his final pass adjudged forward, with the line begging, it summed up their afternoon. Undeterred by this slip and with an identical move, Preece managed to get the ball out to Alex Carroll on the wing who stormed over in the corner. This was a fitting reward for Spa, in this very entertaining finale to the season.
Full Time: 31 – 15