RUGBY PICTURES: Lions take on league leaders Paviors
Lions show they can compete with anyone in division and deserved something from this performance
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Midlands 1 East
Rugby Lions 19 Paviors 31
The latest visitors to Webb Ellis Road were league leaders Paviors, writes Dave Rushall.
A number of injuries to the home front row saw Alex Tansley and Charlie Paxton start at prop with the ever reliable Paul Fowkes hooking. Josh Lockley joined the Wood brothers in the back row with new signing Rickie Aley at fly-half.
The opening 15 minutes were lively with both sides running the ball at every opportunity and any neutral would be hard pressed to decide which team was top of the table. An interception by Dave Weston just inside the home 22 put him in space and a try looked on.
He was however caught and tackled on the visitors’ twenty two, but it did mean that Lion’s were in a good area to attack. A good lineout and drive by the home side led to Tansley breaking off the maul and crashing over for the first score. Aley kicked the conversion to put Lions seven points up.
A fifth penalty conceded by Rugby, enabled a catch and drive try for the visitors to tie the scores at seven all. Rugby finished the half strongly and got to within two metres of the try line before the referee decided time was up and blew the whistle.
Rugby started the second half well with powerful runs from Tansley and Guy Field in particular, but it soon became clear that the visitors were going to utilise the increasing wind at their backs to put the Lions under pressure.
Rugby were falling foul of the referee at every phase of play and the penalty count was rising alarmingly. The pressure eventually told and a failed attempt at a clearance kick to touch was ran back at speed leading to a try for the visitors. The conversion attempt failed to find the target.
Chris Wood broke from the base of a ruck, and was tackled by a Paviors player. Although he was brought to ground, he had rolled well clear of the tackler. He clearly was not held and got back to his feet to continue his run. A penalty was awarded against him for not releasing the ball. There must be a law change here that I am not aware of. From the resulting lineout, the ball was worked well by the visiting backs for another simple converted try.
A lovely chip to the corner put Lions under more pressure and a knock-on gave the visitors a scrum six metres out. Despite a clear knock-on by the Paviors scrum half at the base, the referee deemed the scrum had turned and gave them another chance.
This time they made it count and the try bonus point was secured following a lovely offload from the young visiting fullback. The conversion from the touchline failed to find its mark to leave the visitors ahead 7-24.
Paviors have an impressive set of backs who have clearly played together for some time, and another lovely combination resulted in a nice try under the posts. Rugby were not finished yet however, and diminutive winger Daniel Parrington streaked down the line in typical fashion to reach out and ground the ball on the try line in the clubhouse corner. The conversion from Aley looked good but a gust of wind took the ball wide.
Tansley was enjoying the freedom of playing at prop and putting in some storming runs, and to prove that the visitors are not the only ones with good backs, Weston combined well with Parrington to score a late try, converted by Aley. With two minutes remaining on the clock another try for Rugby would have seen them pick up two well deserved bonus points, but it was not to be.
Paviors deserved the win and are a good side and justifiably top of the league, but Lions showed that they can compete with anyone in this division and deserved something from this performance. One decisive factor was the penalty count - 16 against Rugby and only two against Paviors, (none in the second half!)
Lions next league fixture is on February 9 with a trip to Peterborough for a 2.15pm kick off.