Late penalty overturns narrow lead to snatch victory
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Midlands 1 East
Rugby Lions 20 Wellingborough 21
The latest visitors to Webb Ellis Road were Wellingborough, who were two places and five points ahead in the league table, writes Dave Rushall. Lions fielded two new players in the form of second row Ed Krawiecki and fullback Jevon Hinds, and welcomed back Aiden Parkinson at prop.
Lions kicked off in bright sunshine and pressured the visitors early on. A neat grubber from Weston forced the defender to take the ball over his own line and touchdown. Wellingborough’s large pack drove the Lions scrum off their own ball and the danger was cleared. A kick ahead from the visitor’s right wing saw Daniel Parrington fielding the ball deep in his own 22, but an amazing jinking run saw him beat five would-be tacklers before offloading on the half way line. Krawiecki was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Callum Hopkin, with Sam James switching to second row
Lions were well on top at this stage, and some good interplay by the backs led to Weston feeding Parrington just in front of the clubhouse ten metres from the line. With three defenders in front of him, he still had plenty to do, but in typical fashion he weaved his way through to score a lovely try in the clubhouse corner. Weston added the extras with a superb conversion from the touch line.
Wellingborough’s feisty hooker was then shown a yellow card following an extended altercation with Dave Weston and a few other Lions players. To even things up Weston was also shown a card. A chip ahead by the visiting fly half resulted in a chase for the touchdown between Lewis Moult and the Wellingborough right wing. Moult got to the ball first but was deemed to have pushed his opponent out of the way. The referee awarded a penalty try, much to the would-be try scorer’s surprise.
Back came the Lions and a great run from Kris McFedries was halted five metres short. A series of drives got even closer before Sam James picked up and crashed through two players to score under the uprights. Weston added the extras to restore Lion’s seven point lead. More sustained pressure from the home side, lead to a series of penalties being conceded with advantage being played. With a choice of at least four positions for the kick at goal, Weston obviously chose the one in front of the uprights to make the kick easy.
Deep in to added time, Wellingborough conceded a penalty five metres inside their own half. With the referee indicating time up, Weston was forced to go for goal. He struck it brilliantly but the ball struck the post and was cleared to touch to end the first period at 17-7.
Wellingborough started the second half strongly, and soon reduced the arrears with a penalty. Fullback Hinds was then forced to leave the field with what looked like an ankle injury, to be replaced by Jack Brenchley.
Wellingborough’s strong runners were forcing Lions to defend and make tackle after tackle. The pressure eventually told when the ball was picked up and space opened up down the left wing to allow an easy score near the posts. Amazingly the conversion was missed. A penalty for the visitors put them in front for the first time in the match 17-18.
A superb rolling maul following a lineout by the Lions reached the five metre line before the visitors were penalised for offside in front of the posts. Weston made no mistake to restore Lions’ lead to two points. With the visitors dominating the majority of possession, and running at every opportunity, Lions were defending a little too often for comfort and the penalty count was increasing.
Lions were harshly penalised for pushing early at a scrum just inside their own half which gave the visitors a chance to regain the lead. The kick fell short, and Weston cleared the ball only for the chaser to be deemed offside. This time, with only two minutes remaining on the clock, the kick was successful to put the visitors in front by one point. Scant reward for the Lions in a game that could have gone either way.
Next week Lions travel to high flyers Kettering for a 2.15pm kick off.