BIRMINGHAM Bulldogs came crashing back down to earth with a bump following last week’s high-scoring victory by losing 26-12 on the road at Leamington.
The hosts proved to be a much tougher proposition and, from the first home score, the Bulldogs were always playing catch-up.
A blow to the visitors came when Joe Gregory left the field with suspected concussion and had to sit out the rest of the match.
And on 15 minutes Stephenson was sin-binned which allowed Leamington to take their opportunity and open the scoring thanks to prop Simon Gardner who went over by the posts with stand-off Tommy Hyam adding the extras.
And with half-time approaching the hosts extended their lead further when some good handling saw home prop Danny Alexander finish off a move and Hyam again converted for 12-0 at the half-way stage.
The Bulldogs began the second half brightly thanks to two well taken penalties which took them to the home line but no points came.
Back came Brum again and a strong run from Stephenson set up an attack which saw them held up near the scoring line again.
Having survived the pressure, Leamington then moved out to an 18-0 lead thanks a try from Joe Tallamini, with Hyam converting.
Bulldogs stuck to their task and broke their duck as fullback Ned Stephenson went over from clsoe range. Danny Bancroft converted to give them a slight chance.
And this spurred the Bulldogs on as they cut the gap to six points with the score of the match.
Taking a pass deep in his own half, left winger Chev Taylor charged down the touchline, leaving defenders in his wake before cutting into the posts for a try that gave Bancroft a simple conversion.
But Leamington still had petrol in the tank and two late unconverted tries from James Urquart and Ben Nuttall saw them home by 26-12.