RUGBY: Lions ready for Vase final on Saturday

Action from last week's friendly against Leamington 2nds (Pictures by Ray Andrews)
Action from last week's friendly against Leamington 2nds (Pictures by Ray Andrews)
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Supporters urged to make the trip to Long Buckby to cheer Lions in RFU Midlands Junior Vase Final

Rugby Lions play the biggest game of their season so far on Saturday when they meet at Long Buckby in the RFU Midlands Junior Vase final (ko 2.45pm) with the winners then just one game away from a national final at Twickenham.

Action from last week's friendly with Leamington 2nds (picture by Ray Andrews)

Action from last week's friendly with Leamington 2nds (picture by Ray Andrews)

A regional competition is bound to have local derbies but it is rather special that this RFU Midlands Junior Vase final brings together such close neighbours whose grounds are just one stop and nine minutes apart by rail.

Rugby head coach Robert Walton says he thinks Long Buckby are in some ways a similar side to Lions in playing a quite expansive game: “They move the ball wide with a set of backs better than most we have met this season. In addition, their forwards are strong, confident and like to get into your face so they are a good all-round side, which means we will have to be on top of our game.

“And we will also need the sort of support from the Lions fans who lifted us so much against Bedford Swifts, for example, and made them realise just what they were up against.

“We spent last week’s training learning to be more self-critical of our performances and more self-aware as individuals because when you are having as good a season as we are, it is inevitable you can start to believe you are better than you are.

“As coaches, we have used videos of games to show we were referring to errors or wrong options taken that actually happened and couldn’t be denied. It made the impact we hoped it would.

“We have a strong and a versatile squad so we can tailor our final selection to what we are looking to achieve in this game and we aim to do the Rugby Lions club and supporters proud.”

After two successive relegations, Long Buckby are top of Midlands 4 East (South), as were Bedford Swifts when Lions met them in October, and just about to clinch the championship so there are parallels between the two finalists. Long Buckby are proud of their almost entirely home-grown squad and even head coach Duncan Frankland, a renowned former hooker with Northampton Saints, has been at Long Buckby for many years, first coaching the club’s Minis. Between Saints and Buckby, he played two seasons at Rugby Lions.

Rugby Lions 95

Leamington II 7

Rugby Lions were grateful to be able to get a game a week before their RFU Midlands Junior Vase final.

Barkers Butts withdrew on Friday but Fred Empy managed to organise this game after Kenilworth cancelled to leave Leamington IIs free to play.

Rugby would have wanted a tougher contest but Leamington never gave up and deserved at least their late score and from the sidelines there appeared to be no injury concerns for Lions.

Scorers: Tries: A Attenborough 5, C Bennett 3, Whiteside 2, Ure 2, Hsthwaite 1, Hill 1, Bott 1. Conversions Bott 8, Whiteside 2

Rugby Lions: Ure, C Bennett, Renard, Bott, A Attenborough, Whiteside, Collins, W Attenborough, Gurling, Nurse, Hill, Walton, Kimberley, Lockley, Husthwaite. Reps: Edwards, Everton, Fuller, Lawson, Machon, Monich, Phillips, Riley