RUGBY PICTURES: Committed performance by injury-hit Lions against promotion chasers
Scoreline flatters Dudley Kingswinford as Lions really need another win to ease relegation threat
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Midlands 1 WestRugby Lions 20 Dudley Kingswinford 52
Second-placed Dudley Kingswinford were the latest visitors to Webb Ellis Road in another vital contest for both sides for very different reasons.Following the excellent performance in the last match at Camp Hill, Lions really need another win in the remaining three games to ease the relegation threat.The omens were not good however, with Sam Herrington and Stuart Lee both missing through injury, and Sam James unavailable which meant that prop Aiden Parkinson and No.8 Chris Wood had to play in the second row.Dudley were first on the scoreboard after three minutes following a simple run through and touchdown under the posts. This lead was further extended when a charged-down kick somehow stuck in the arms of the Dudley player to allow a simple score.A strong run from Chris Wood enabled the ball to be swung wide left, and Liam Munro evaded two defenders to score in the corner. Back came the visitors, and their lively backs, aided by a couple of lucky bounces, scored their third try in the left corner. The conversion was successful to put them 19-5 up. A penalty for the Lions enabled Dave Weston to reduce the arrears. Dudley players were giving plenty of advice to the referee, and his patience eventually ran out and their full-back was given a spell in the bin.Chris Wood was having a storming game, and after a line-out on the right, the ball was switched across the field for Lions’ Fijian full-back Simione Bituwaqa to gleefully touchdown. Lions were on a roll now and straight from the restart Dave Weston streaked down the right before feeding Bituwaqa for his second try in two minutes. Weston converted from in front of the posts to put Lions ahead for the first time.Dudley, however, soon regained the lead with a forward drive and try in the clubhouse corner. The conversion was missed to make the half time score 20-24. A great performance by the home side, and with three tries in the bag, another score would give them at least a try bonus point which could prove vital by the end of the season.Chris Wood was forced to pull out at half time with a hand injury which meant Lions had no jumpers in the line-outs, and this proved to be a major blow for the home side. Lions’ sterling efforts in the first period were beginning to tell, and Dudley were applying all the pressure. The scrum was working well for the Lions, but their inability to compete at the line-out was thwarting their attempts to score their fourth try.Dudley scored a couple of tries under the posts to put the game out of reach for the Lions and their gallant defensive efforts were beginning to build up an alarming number of serious looking injuries. Not ideal for the two remaining games. The flying Fijian almost broke free down the left, but a desperate tap tackle just stopped his progress.With the Lions awarded a penalty, a quick tap and go by Joe Higgins was halted by a high tackle, but the referee deemed the kick to have been taken from the wrong place. Deep into the final quarter of the game, Lions’ cause was not helped by receiving two yellow cards for high tackles, and the 13 players conceded three late tries to make the final score a little flattering for the visitors. All credit to the Lions for their commitment throughout the game and they certainly deserved at least a point from it.Let’s hope that the injuries picked up during this contest will heal quickly.Next week sees the Lions travel to Hereford for a 3pm kick-off.