Old Halesonians 24, Nuneaton 26

HALES had good cause to feel hard done by after having the better of exchanges for most of this match.

But they clearly got on the wrong side of referee James Bullock who continually penalised them.

As a result, Nuns, who are expected to be one of the heavyweights again in this division, snatched victory with virtually the last kick of the match.

A pointless opening quarter was finally brought to life when constant Hales pressure saw them fling the ball wide for unmarked right wing Luke Smith to scamper over for a try after 26 minutes.

The speedy Smith did even better eight minutes later, snapping up possession, he sprinted past several flimsey challenges to run the length of the pitch and touchdown.

A third try followed right on the stroke of half time, hooker Pete Fitzgerald being driven over from a quickly taken tap penalty.

Full back Chris Hooper converted two of the tries while Nuns only response was a penalty from the boot of fly half Joe Wilson as Hales held a commanding 19-3 lead by half time.

Wilson reduced arrear six minutes into the second half with another penalty while Hales had scrum half Nathan Jones sent to the sin-bin for an alleged illegal tackle.

Nuns quickly cut the deficit further when awarded a penalty try three minutes later after Hales were penalised in the scrum and Wilson duly converted in front of the posts to make the score 19-13.

Any fears Nuns would continue their revival appeared to be quelled when 14 man Hales engineered a fourth try following a textbook catch and drive from a lineout where flanker Tom Jordan forced his way over the line.

But danger resurfaced on 67 minutes when referee Bullock awarded Nuns a second penalty try, which Wilson duly improved upon which made the score 24-20.

Further Hales pressure proved to no avail and it was the accurate boot of Wilson who eventually sealed victory after Nuns were awarded two more penalties - much to the home crowd's dismay.

Hales: Chris Hooper; Steve Powell, Andy Holloway, Warren Oliver, Luke Smith; Matt Williams, Nathan Jones; Tom Dempsey, Pete Fitzgerald, Rich Taylor; Guy Field, Tom King; Loz Breeze, Tom Jordan, Owen Jones. Replacements: Callum Young, Mark Evans, David Wakefield.

Nuneaton: George Adams; Nyle Beckett, Gavin Laycock, Elliot Brown, Brandon Boshi, Joe Wilson, Tom Smitham; Darren Dean, Nick Smith, John Pateman; Llyr Griffiths, Scott Makepeace; Martin Dearne, Mark Lingard, Adie Hall. Replacements: Phil Ryan, Matt Aston, Huw Thomas.