Lions looking good for new season
The Lions squad having attended Rob Walton’s funeral along with another 700 rugby folk, coupled with the wake and associated celebrating his life was not ideal preparation the day prior to our last pre-season run out.
Shorn of several players through unavailability due to it being bank holiday weekend, this was going to be no walk in the park.
Long Buckby are a good side that gave Lions a real fright two seasons ago, back in our first year of rebuilding.
In that campaign, we had conceded five tries all season. Competing in the RFU Midlands final, Long Buckby were first rate, running in five tries in a fraught 50-minute period, only for Lions to stage the mother of all comebacks pipping them 38-41 in extra time.
They are a good side, third in Midlands Three last season and hell bent on promotion this time around.
They would therefore provide some evidence as to where we are currently at and be some measure of progress since our previous tough encounter back in April 2014.
As last week, the game was divided into four quarters allowing both teams to field many players in a bid to present their case to the respective coaches.
Overall, Lions were able to field 27 players amid a plethora of interchanges, all keen to impress.
A minute’s silence was observed for coach Walton and the game kicked off amidst a lovely warm summer’s day that did nothing for the after effects of the previous day, this only improved by Webb Ellis Road looking fabulous.
The first quarter was fairly uneventful, littered with errors that provided a scoreless period with both sides finding their way.
If truth be told, Long Buckby probably edged the arm wrestle in settling into the game, coming closest to crossing on occasion.
Second quarter and enter 12 new players as Lions rang the changes. During this period, special mention to Logan Roberts who seamlessly stepped up from the Development to score two cracking tries on the wing and taking on kicking duties to good effect also.
Similarly, new recruit Pat Howard showed what he can do, having a strong game before having to leave the field due to injury.
Further changes in the third quarter meant that the game became very loose with breaks aplenty from both sides; Lions scoring a further two tries during this period.
Returning scrum-half Neil Davies enjoyed a strong 20 minutes, similarly centre Jonny Nicholls on his return to the club did too.
In the final quarter, Lions crossed again with tempers starting to fray in the heat.
With Lions forwards again dominant in the tight throughout it came as a bit of a shock when Long Buckby were rewarded with a series of penalties to take them downfield, allowing their forwards to rumble over from close range for a deserved score for all their efforts toward the end of the game.
But Lions outscored their guests by five tries to one, final score Lions 31-5 Long Buckby.
Ultimately this was a satisfying win against good opposition intent on victory themselves, the ultimate compliment coming from the Long Buckby coach who struggled to comprehend the strength in depth at Lions.
Evidence that we are in a good place currently, with many players soon becoming available and with three strong senior sides shortly to take the field… some achievement in just two seasons.
We are aware, however, that this was far from a vintage Lions performance with lots of things learnt and areas of our game that will need to be addressed, this, however, the idea of pre-season run outs, all in all therefore a productive afternoon for all involved.
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There are some horror selections to be made in the forthcoming weeks with good players in every position all vying for a first team start, it is hoped that this healthy competition for places will bring the best out in folk and push all in the squad to greater heights.
Next up, Lions have a tough month in front, away to Berkswell and Balsall in the Warwickshire Cup followed by three oppositions, each potential league title contenders harbouring promotion aspirations. Happily Lions are improving week on week and will be a threat to all.