Sherwood Wolf Hunt RLFC struggled to follow up two wins on the trot as they lost 44-12 against a very well-drilled Leamington Royals in Warwickshire on Saturday.
The Wolf Hunt failed to deal with the line speed of Leamington in attack and defence, and struggled out wide with pace and defence.
The final score was a fair one, given that the Wolf Hunt never gave up and came back in the last 15 minutes. By that time the result was not in doubt and both teams had tired in wet difficult conditions.
Wolf Hunt assistant coach Andy Kinta said: “We struggled in all aspects of the game.
“Our line speed was poor, our defence was slack on occasion and we were too slow with the ball from the ruck.
“Leamington slowed us down with a very well organised, quick defence.”
The game began evenly with both sets of forwards testing each other out.
However, on this occasion the attack pace at the ruck from Leamington had the Wolf Hunt on the back foot.
This line speed led to two quick tries from Leamington centres James Urquart and Paul Salvin after 15 minutes. The Wolf Hunt were shocked at the pace and needed to regroup.
Some strong running from Shaun Underwood, Gavin Saxby and the unstoppable Francis Appleton, turned the tide a little and the Wolf Hunt got into the game.
Only some dropped ball in the wet conditions and poor decision making at the ruck from the visitors stopped them responding with points.
On the 38th minute Leamington again broke through the Wolf Hunt defence again with excellent line speed for hooker Andy Morrison to score under the sticks. The goal was kicked and the team went into half-time 14-0 down.
Very experienced hooker Morrison was running the show, getting his forwards rolling over the Wolf Hunt defence.
In the second half, Leamington’s well-drilled attack was battering the Wolf Hunt line, which was struggling to cope with the pace, failing to slow down the ruck.
Leamington took the game by the throat in a 10 minute spell when they slid through for three excellent tries, all converted by Hyam, to make it 32-0 with 20 minutes to go.
This scoreline woke up the Wolf Hunt. Forwards Brent Leivers, Chris Wright, Grant Dixon and Matley Brain ran well off Bates and Butler, controlling the ball and starting to do what they do well, wearing down the opposition defence.
This slowed down Leamington’s defence and led to centre Michael Allen, working off stand-off Adam Bates to turn Leamington around.
Excellent work from joint Men of the Match, loose forward Sam Butler and Luke Walters in both attack and defence, started to put the Wolf on the front foot.
This led to three sets of possession in the Leamington 20m line and an excellent first try from Butler from close to the line, diving over from a great pass from Bates. This try was converted and it was 32-6 with 12 minutes to go.
On the restart, Leamington responded by throwing the ball around and putting the tiring Wolf Hunt on the back foot.
Great handling in the corner led to a try out wide, the conversion missed, but the scoreline looked ominous at 38-6.
The Wolf Hunt responded by organising their pack. With Butler off the park from a yellow card, Bates and veteran Glenn Holt had their big boys rolling up the hill.
This tired Leamington and great running from Allen and Walters saw Allen tear through the middle to score under the sticks with nine minutes to go. The Wolf Hunt had their heads back up and were competing at last.
With the clock ticking, Leamington tested their hand and a ridiculous bounce close to the Wolf Hunt line saw them run in under the sticks. The try was converted and the whistle went soon after with the Wolf Hunt relieved.
This was a sobering loss that brought the Wolf Hunt down to earth.
Leamington were well prepared for what they thought would be a very stiff test. In the end the Wolf Hunt struggled to get rolling against a very well-drilled Leamington Royals defence.
Leamington coach Lloyd Morton, said: “We knew this would be difficult and perhaps the score flattered us a little, but our preparation in defence paid dividends.
“All credit to the Wolf Hunt, they never gave up, but our lads did a job in defence with quick line speed. Defence is everything in this game.”
This Saturday the Wolf Hunt take on Telford at Debdale Park in a game in which they will have to step up in attack and defence.
Telford are a well establish club that compete at the top of the Midlands Premier Division each year. The game starts at 2.30pm.