Leamington season ended after defeat to Aldwinians

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Leamington brought the curtain down on their 2023/24 campaign, with another eye-catching performance, losing narrowly to a competent Manchester side, in this semi-final of the Papa Johns Men's Community Cup, Counties 1 North Plate. Aldwinians now face Bradford Salem in the final.

The pitch at "Moorefields", the home of Leamington, was in pristine condition and with the ground basking in glorious Spring sunshine, the match lived up to full expectations, with two sides wanting and willing to play free-flowing rugby.

Aldwinians opened the scoring on five minutes of play with a try, after a positive start to the game, which had already seen Leamington winger, Jonty Duncan, having to make a try saving tackle to stop an earlier incursion.

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Leamington, however, were able to hit back with two tries of their own to take a slender lead. Their first entry into the scorebook followed a lineout, which they comfortably secured and set up a drive to the Aldwinians line, with Second-Row, John Brear, forcing his way over for the try. They then followed this up with some sublime attack play; Aldwinians won a lineout on the far wing and chose to throw to the back of the line. The ball missed its intended catcher and fell into the lap of Leamington Back-Row star, Gareth Shuttleworth, who was quick to react with a darting run. Ed Gray was in support, to his left and when the ball was fed to him, he twisted out of an attempted tackle and raced up the wing, fending off defenders on the way, to score in the corner.

Leamington Fly-Half, Lewis Vaughan, on the break, picture by Ken Pinfold.Leamington Fly-Half, Lewis Vaughan, on the break, picture by Ken Pinfold.
Leamington Fly-Half, Lewis Vaughan, on the break, picture by Ken Pinfold.

The game then edged once again in favour of the visitors, as they hit back with a converted try, following a well-directed cross-field kick, which set up the score. The Manchester side were able to increase their lead further, courtesy of a 'penalty try'.

With the half coming to a close, Leamington reduced the deficit with two Alex Johnston penalty goals.

The latter emanating from Jonty Duncan's charge down, which allowed his side to set up a series of attacks on the Aldwinians goal line, leading to the infringement.

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The superb playing surface was allowing both sides to play open rugby, at high tempo, and thus give the big crowd excellent entertainment. Throughout the game no side had been able to take a firm grip on proceedings, which led to a tense and keenly fought contest.

Although Aldwinians took the edge early on in the second period with a penalty and unconverted try, they never looked comfortable and were at times having to take desperate measures to stymie the Leamington attack.

From one of these passages of play, resulting in a penalty, the hosts kicked for position and when they secured the lineout ball, Hooker, Nathan Batchelor, was on hand to score the try, which 'Patch' Northover converted.

With the clock winding down, Leamington were looking the side more likely to score and certainly had the stronger energy levels, thus resulting in a pulsating end to the game. Aldwinians, however, were able to secure possession and keep the ball in hand, until they were given the nod that time was up, before launching a kick out of play.

The match was worthy of any semi-final and a testament to the ability of both squads. Aldwinians can look forward to a cup final, whilst Leamington can take a well-earned and well deserved rest.

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