Leamington Royals 66 North East Worcestershire Ravens 12
Midlands Rugby League Division One play-off
RAVENS saw their play-off ambitions ended on Saturday in what turned out to be a heated encounter at Leamington Royals.
The match, played in sweltering conditions, was always likely to prove a challenging affair for the visitors but they were left aggrieved by some of the refereeing decisions.
After Ravens gained possession for the first time and made good ground into the opposition half, they did not hear the referee’s call for the last tackle which resulted in a turnover to Royals who scored two quickfire tries, both converted.
There was some admirable defence from Ravens and eventually they won a penalty for a head-high tackle. From this penalty, Ravens set up their first try scored by Mark Austin and duly converted by captain Dave Swaysland.
The hosts responded and Ravens’ Brad Sinclair made a superb try-saving tackle before the Royals did cross the whitewash again on several occasions to leave the visitors with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Just before half time, with the heat taking its toll on both sides, Ravens’ Harry Shelton had to come off the field due to a painful ankle injury.
Following the half time pep talk, Ravens commenced the second half with renewed vigour and bagged their second try through Rich Whitehouse from a fine midfield break. Swaysland then successfully converted.
With further tries, the Royals put the outcome beyond doubt, but the visitors felt hard done by with decisions in the build-up to two of the tries.
An earlier injury to Sinclair eventually meant he had to leave the pitch and, following another penalty against Ravens, frustrations resulted in a Ravens player being sin-binned for ten minutes.
In this exhausting final match of the season, Ravens certainly showed how much they have improved.
Some of the players are fairly new to rugby league, some were unavailable on the day and injuries also depleted the squad.
The club feel the senior squad has progressed massively over the season and this is down to all the hard work of the coaching staff and players – old and new.
The junior season continues with a fun training session on Sunday at Kings Norton RFC, followed by a barbecue and fun touch game for the older juniors, senior squad, masters and touch players.