What a season!!!
Spa’s experienced Front Row of Eastham, Bob Gardiner and Danny Phillips produced some excellent scrummaging
Leamington visited 6th placed, Old Halesonians for their penultimate league game of the season and began in brisk style, keeping their hosts firmly penned in home half for the first fifteen minutes. The firm playing surface certainly suited the Spa backline and in one early exchange, Centre, Simon Tyler, broke at pace and forced his way into the Halesonians 22 metre area. Prop, Gareth Eastham raced in to support the move and carried the ball further forward and set up Tyler again, for the big Centre to charge closer to the home Try line. Halesonians rallied to clear the ball, only for Preece to run it back at them at pace.
With Leamington in the driving seat, it was disappointing for them to go behind, as they fell victim to some pure, unadulterated pace. Spa were attacking again, this time down the far wing, however when the ball was lost, it fell to the home right wing, just outside his 22 metre area, who showed blistering pace to race in to score, under Spa’s posts. Further trouble followed for Spa as the hosts quickly hit them with another converted score.
Leamington tried to respond and as wing, Simon Magill charged through, it took three defenders to eventually stop his strong run. Then Tyler hit the home side with another direct run and the hosts did well to hold him up, just short of the Try line.
Halesonians were keen to get the ball out to the right wing and once again this ploy provided another converted score. At 21 nil down, Leamington were left wondering how they could be in this position, after showing so much flair in attack.
As the home side began to get into stride, Tyler had to be alert to pull off a try saving tackle. Then Spa lost the ball at a line out and Halesonians quickly got it out to the wing to score their fourth Try of the afternoon.
In these difficult circumstances, Spa continued to attack at pace and Alex Carroll linked up with Tyler to create another gap in the home defence. However the final pass to Simon Dudley, who was, lightening quick to get over the Try line, was adjudged “forward”. Spa did however finally get some reward for their pressure as Magill once again forced his way up field. As the Spa man went to ground, “Patch” Northover quickly fed Lock, Ben Ashmore, who crashed over.
Half Time: 26 – 5
Halesonians were first to show in the second half and some slick play, wrong-footed Spa’s defence, and the home side scored another converted Try.
Spa then introduced John Holland and the pacy winger soon got into the game, as Northover created some room for him to have charge up field. Further pressure came from the Spa Forwards, who, throughout the match, had been equal to the heavier home Pack. Back Row, Alex Sharman continually tried to test the home defence with some strong running. Also, in the set piece, Spa’s experienced Front Row of Eastham, Bob Gardiner and Danny Phillips produced some excellent scrummaging. Spa were, however, finding it difficult to live with the incisive Halesonian play, who once again responded with a Try.
Despite the 33 point deficit now, Spa were still trying to show off their quality. In one of the best moves of the afternoon, “Patch” Northover and Ben Ashmore combined to send Alex Carroll off on a surge up field and as defenders closed in, he slipped a pass to Magill, in excellent support, who raced in to score under the posts. Tyler added maximum points.
Halesonians had a couple of scores left in their repertoire, but in one last act of defiance, the Spa Pack, defending a scrum in their 22 metre area, produced a massive effort to win the ball against the head. Spa may be down, but there not downbeat!
Full Time: 50 – 12
Next week, Spa entertain Old Laurentians, in the last league match of the season, kick-off 3.00pm. This is a must win game for the side from Rugby, if they are to retain league status.