Byline: Alan Poole
HAVING eased their relegation worries with a brace of away victories, Barkers' Butts were brought down to earth when leaders Old Halesonians piled up a 57-12 haul at Pickford Grange Lane.
It was 29-7 at the interval, wingers Chris Priest and Josh Palmer providing most of Barkers' brightest moments with the latter sending through Sam Montague for a try converted by Tom Stokes.
The second half got off to a disappointing start as Austin Wallace dashed through and fed Chris Priest who was pulled up for a foot in touch just short of the line.
And although the Coventry men summoned up some sustained spells of pressure - so much so that the visitors accumulated two yellow cards - they were denied a penalty try and had to be content with a late consolation touchdown from man-of-thematch Palmer.
Halesonians' tries were shared around by Loz Breeze, Tom Harris, Rich Taylor, Steve Powell, Simon Sabel, Tim Breakwell, Pete Fitzgerald, Chris Hooper and Luke Smith. Berkswell & Balsall took the opportunity to pull five points clear of their neighbours with a 25-19 decision against Northwich.
The Bs struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the first half and went in 13-10 adrift - Mark Galpin laying on the try for Tom Marlow and Sam Bignell adding a penalty to his conversion.
Skipper Ollie Flint demanded a response in the second half and it was instantly forthcoming as a fluent move saw Ben Runcorn draw the final defender to open Joe Large's path to the corner.
Runcorn was again prominent as James Fahy sprinted through for the third try but the villagers couldn't manage a fourth and it was Northwich who salvaged a bonus point with a couple of late penalties.
Kenilworth eased two points clear in Midland Two West (South) after edging out leaders Old Laurentians 3-0 in a top-of-the-table showdown that made up in gutwrenching tension what it lacked in free-flowing rugby.
Defences, needless to say, were on top throughout an ultra-competitive encounter, the all-important score arriving seven minutes into the second half as full-back Tom Kendall drilled home a penalty and the hosts denied an equaliser when Jon Bean's kick shaved an upright.
The result was the perfect tonic for Kenilworth after their depressing Intermediate Cup performance seven days previously although OLs suffered more than their fair share of injuries with winger Troy Owen and back-row pair Glenn Todd and Carl Adams forced to retire which meant that prop Ollie Cowley had to switch to No.8. Laurentians now face a re-arranged match with Newbold on Avon next weekend, the neighbours smarting for revenge after a 31-10 defeat in October and buoyed by their 62-10 rout of Upton-on-Severn last weekend.
OLs will certainly need to keep an eye on fly-half Joss Andrews who scored two and converted all eight of Newbold's tries and threw in two penalties for a personal contribution of 32 points.
The other tries came from Phil Reed (2), Tom Newbold, Dave Henry - his first for the club - Rory Blood and Jon Richards as Newbold shrugged off yellow cards for Mark Hyde and Ben Hartwell to build on their 27-5 interval lead.
Injury-hit Dunlop blooded a number of younger players at Leamington and turned in a highly promising display before going down 25-16.
They shipped 15 points while they were still bedding in, Tom Jewitt the thorn in their side as he kicked an early penalty before launching the five-man move that saw back-row Danny Ruysevelt crash over for a converted try and then chipped through for Alex Carroll to gather and outstrip the visitors' cover.
But Dunlop retaliated with admirable spirit, Danny James kicking two penalties and converting Dave Weston's handsome try to make it 15-13 at the interval and flighting home another penalty to nudge them ahead early in the second period.
It took some excellent work by Patch Northover and Craig Smith to deny Dunlop additional points, but the Spa men regained the initiative in the final quarter, skipper John Raby cashing in on a canny kick from Northover who added the conversion and a penalty that denied the visitors their consolation point. …