League leaders Ledbury edged out by a strengthened Old Leamingtonians
With a number of first-team players returning to the squad, the overall performance was better coordinated and, had it not been for a high penalty count, OLs would have beaten Ledbury by a far greater margin.
The game kicked off with Ledbury electing to run the ball despite benefiting from a strong wind and the OLs defence resolutely matching every move.
Ledbury opened the scoring with a well-struck three points from the half-way line after OLs infringed but their lead proved shortlived.
After a period of good forward play, OLs laid the platform for their three-quarters to come into play and from a flowing move across the pitch, Ciaran O’Connor took advantage of an overlap on the left wing to cross.
The conversion was pushed wide.
Both teams were playing open rugby but the OLs forwards were slowly gaining superiority over the Ledbury pack.
And, following a series of forward surges, play was taken to the Ledbury line where scrum-half Toby Lord picked up and crossed for a try wide out on the left flank.
The conversion from Brad James followed to put OLs 12-3 up.
The hosts were conceding penalties in the loose but Ledbury opted to kick for touch rather than at goal and the home defence proved equal to their thrusts.
As half-time approached, Ledbury did opt to take the points on offer, with two penalties bringing it back to 12-9.
The second half saw OL’s having the benefit of the strong wind but the gameplan was still to run the ball whenever possible and this allowed Ledbury back into the game.
A further infringement in front of the OLs posts saw the score levelled before the hosts edged back in front with a James three-pointer.
OLs began to exert more forward pressure on the visitors’ defence and, following a series of forward rucks and mauls, the ball was taken over the line for prop Reece Jones to touch down.
A well-struck conversion from James extended Old Leamingtonians’ advantage to nine points.
Ledbury were not finished, however, and the last ten minutes saw the visitors create a number of moves that could have resulted in tries but for strong OLs defence.
They did add an unconverted try and pressed for another score but it was Old Leamingtonians who came closest to adding to their tally with late pressure inside the Ledbury 22.
However, they had already done enough to warp up the points.
Tomorrow, OLs visit highflying Old Coventrians (2.15pm kick-off), while their ladies’ side, who were without a game last weekend, round off their year with a trip to Rugby Lionessess in Midlands Division One.