AFTER a four week lay off expectations were high from both supporters and players.
But Old Halesowenians RFC eventually squandered a 15-point first-half lead as they lost 37-25 in an away defeat to South Leicestershire.
For the first 25 minutes Halesonians were sharp, incisive, fast paced, hard tackling and possibly saw some of the best passages of play this season.
Despite this the home side took the lead which came from a Hales attack, where a loose ball was collected by their impressive winger who sprinted 80 yards, forcing many missed tackles to score.
With the help of the Hales team, centre Andy Robinson began to outplay the majority of the opposition single handed.
He appeared to cover every position on the pitch. After 10 minutes he gathered the ball to score an excellent try which he converted. Eight minutes later, Hales again worked the phases and following a Luke Smith attack with the ball, he fed the impressive Robinson again for his second try and conversion of the game.
Continued pressure by the visitors forced two penalties close to the home try line, Robinson converted both for a personal tally of 20 points. Leicester then started their comeback before half time with a well worked try and the second half was a totally different game as the hosts lifted a gear and introduced a relentless commitment to fight back. Hales made three mistakes in a row in attack which gifted the ball to the opposition.
The visitors struggled to contain the greater forward power of Leicester. They made best use of the ball, after yet another break by Robinson, he broke through to feed Luke Smith who passed to the opposition and they scored a gifted try.
This was a defining moment of the afternoon and during a disappointing second period of Halesonians play, the home side seemed almost to score at will. Three more tries and two conversions followed by two penalties for a convincing and comfortable lead.
Hales fought back with a consolation try by Smith. He missed the conversion but could not be blamed for the lack of commitment in the second half and Hales were well beaten.
Hales now sit fourth in the Midlands National three League behind Sutton who move up to third having narrowly beaten Nuneaton. The next game on Saturday is away to Bedford Athletic when Hales will be looking to bounce back from this disappointment. Kick off on Saturday is 3pm.