As a local derby, with both teams keen to take home the spoils, the match certainly lived up to expectations.
The home side had the start they were looking for and took the lead after just four minutes when James Dunne forced his way through for a score in the corner.
OL’s were quick to respond and had the hosts on the back foot with a scored penalty their reward.
Play continued to centre in the Leamington danger areas and the home side were forced into some serious defensive work.
Centre, Toby Bruce, once again proved pivotal in this task, with some of his typical, no-nonsense style, fully effective, tackling, thus helping his team to come out of this frenetic period of play with just a further converted penalty down.
When Leamington were able to regroup, Smith was on hand to claim lineout ball and get his set of forwards away. Props, Luke Gaffney and Louis Dunbavin both put in forceful runs near the visitors try line and when the ball was cleared, Full Back, Sam Nunn claimed it and set winger, Logan Deeley off on the attack. This incisive play got the home side into a very good position on the far flank and almost culminated in a score.
The visitors were then back in control, however they missed the opportunity to increase their lead when a penalty kick was off target.
As the half drew to a close, Rich McKowen took one final chance to try to bring his side back into the game with a neat chip ahead and catch, which nearly caught the visitors cold.
In the early stages of the second half, OL’s were very positive in their attack play and forced Leamington onto the back foot and into another intense period of defending.
However, when Leamington did finally manage to get free they took full advantage. Their clearance resulted in a lineout, midway in the OL’s half. The visitors claimed possession and worked the ball along their backline. McKowen, alert to this, was quick to spot a laboured pass and snapped it up, on the interception and raced in, under the visitor’s posts. He then added the extras with the conversion.
The momentum of play now swung like a pendulum; one OL’s attack, deep in Leamington home territory, was halted by a clever steal from Craig Smith and a further inroad by the visitors, was stopped by juggernaut, John Brear. When play switched, another clever and pacy break by winger Deely had the visitors back peddling.
At times, the home scrum felt the full force of the buoyant OL’s pack and Smith, had to be alert to this and was very effective in controlling possession for Josh Jones to use from the scrum half position.
As the game entered its final phase, OL’s were still trying to retrieve the lead and were putting Leamington under some serious pressure. They secured lineout position from penalties conceded by Leamington, only to see their ball taken by Smith.
A forward charge from them was stopped singlehandedly by Brear, with a huge turnover, before the danger was finally cleared.