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By Jamie Arrowsmith Tuesday 27 November 2012 Updated: 28/11 14:30
Stewarts and Lloyds 16 Rugby St Andrews 10
Midlands Three East (South)
RUGBY suffered just their second defeat of the season in Saturday's top of the table clash at Stewarts and Lloyds but still emerged with a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
In what proved a physical contest, Saints made too many unforced errors and gave away soft penalties which the home side capitalised on to edge an even game.
Saints' task was made more difficult after seven minutes when full back and kicker Ryan Taylor suffered an injury, S&L gained possession and a speculative kick ahead caught the defence out of position. A slip in the process of gathering the wet ball allowed the home winger to hack over the line and win the race for the try which was converted.
The visitors were struggling to get into the game with missed touch kicks adding to the increasing pressure as S&L ran the ball back at Saints and used the slight wind advantage to get themselves on the front foot.
S&L increased their lead with a 24th minute penalty and continued to apply the pressure which eventually led to Saints losing a player to the sin bin.
This seemed to galvanise Saints and they played out the rest half on the front foot but failed to find a way through a well organised home defence before narrowly missing a long range penalty.
Saints started the second half much better, using the wind that was blowing diagonally across the pitch to make good ground.
They managed to string multiple phases together and eventually created a chance when good recycling of possession led to back row Matthew Butlin scoring in the corner.
S&L hit straight back though with a penalty from the restart that increased the lead to two scores and further injuries to the Saints side meant more enforced changes.
However, when the S&L prop decided to take matters into his hands he was dismissed for his actions and Saints again lifted their game.
They tried to play patiently and worked their back into the S&L 22 where they won good line-out ball and drove for the line but were stopped illegally when the home side collapsed the maul.
Without a recognised kicker, Saints put the ball to touch and again the forwards secured the ball and drove for the line when Craig Jones peeled off the back of the maul to dive over for a 65th minute try.
Try as they might, Saints could not find a way through a well organised home defence and when they broke out of defence they were penalised in their haste to win back possession.
The reliable boot of the S&L kicker sent the penalty over and Saints struggled in the final few minutes as the pushed for a winning converted try.
Defeat leaves Saints fourth in the table and four points behind the top three. They take a break from league action on Saturday when they travel to Spartans in the Warwickshire Shield.
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