Woodrush 47 Old Leamingtonians 20
Midlands Three West (South)
WOODRUSH sit top of the fledgling league table with ten points after claiming their second successive bonus point victory with success in their opening home game of the campaign on Saturday.
The home team started positively but made some silly mistakes which put them under unnecessary pressure playing up the slope and against the breeze and blinding sunshine.
However, under some pressure against a confident Leams scrummage, scrum half Titch Thomas stole the ball from under the Leam eight’s feet and sprinted a full 60 metres upfield. A huge hand-off put paid to the covering winger’s efforts to bring Thomas down but a desperate tackle by the away full back did enough to disrupt the infield pass to Jack McLaren and the threat was nullified.
Leams regathered themselves and their dangerous backs made good ground on the right hand side of the field. Good scramble defence by the home side seemed to have quelled the attack but over-zealous counter-rucking gave Leams a penalty opportunity which they slotted over with ease.
Rush thundered back upfield from the kick-off and some effective driving from the lineout offered the backs an opportunity to flow left. The away defence were stubborn and determined but the Rush won a penalty which arch-poacher Thomas took quickly and darted through the desperate defenders to cross the line to give Woodrush the advantage. Steve Smart converted and the home side led 7-3.
Strong scrummaging from Jon Deeks, Callum Wallace and the revelation which is Sam Jones was giving the Rush the upper hand up front and a lineout and resultant drive put Smart, who was running the show from ten, in space.
A beautifully timed pass put Tom Waters, running a delicious line at centre, between the posts and the Rush extended their lead as Smart slotted over the extras.
Old Leams are a decent rugby unit and they responded strongly, attacking with verve out along their back line, but a well disciplined press defence from the Rush forced a mistimed pass which Smart, showing the gas of a man 20 years his junior, gleefully intercepted and raced 65m unopposed to dab down and convert from under the posts.
James Evans’ influence at outside centre was starting to play havoc with the away defence. At 6ft 4in and 17 stone with precocious speed, he tore away from two tackles to cross for the closing score of the first half for the home team on 28 minutes and by now the Rush were 26-3 up with a bonus point in the bag.
A lesser team might have just packed up and departed gracefully in the face of this green and white maelstrom but Old Leams have much more about them than that. As if to make a point they put together some superb rugby to score twice in the next 12 minutes and leave the game very much more in the balance at 26-13 at half time.
However, just five minutes of the second half had passed before a fine dummy run from Evans drew two defenders and smart hands from Waters put McLaren in space and he ghosted over the line to give the home team some breathing space and an easy conversion for Smart.
It was largely one-way traffic from then on as the home forwards enjoyed substantial lineout superiority and from a rear peel Thomas was again on hand to cross the line to extend the lead. Smart was on fire with the boot to once again add the extras.
A fine break from within their own half saw veteran Jamie Maddocks with ball in hand with just 30m to make to the line. Experience prevailed and he held his sprint to offload sensibly to younger men who drove close but Leams cleared their lines.
From the ensuing lineout, Thomas sent a pass some two feet over Smart’s head (his only mistake of the game), but Waters, playing in the unfamiliar position of 12, picked up off his bootstraps and tore through a wilting home line to score a sensational try.
From the kick-off the home team recycled well but were now intent on some champagne rugby to celebrate a fine performance. However a sloppy pass went to ground and the Leams backs finished well to add an appropriate amount of respectablilty to the score.
There were fine Woodrush performances all-round but special mentions go to Dave Hawkins who dominated the lineout, Jordan Harvey-Gill who was exemplary both in the tight and in the loose and Luke Sinclair at full back who was sharp and intelligent. Smart ended the day with a 17-point haul from fly half.
Woodrush visit newly-promoted Bromyard on Saturday.