Hosts come back from 19-0 down in very forgettable encounter
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS, REPORT BY DAVE RUSHALL
Midlands 1 East: Wellingborough 28 Rugby Lions 24
Following last week’s excellent performance and victory against Towcestrians, Lions supporters and players travelled to Wellingborough with a degree of optimism, writes Dave Rushall.
The first half with the strong breeze at their backs appeared to confirm this as the Lions scored 19 unanswered points for a healthy half-time lead. Unfortunately the wheels came off in the second period and Lions were defending grimly as the home side scored four converted tries to lead by nine points. A late try for Rugby did at least salvage a couple of valuable bonus points in a very forgettable encounter.
A typical charge from Alex Tansley broke a few tackles before an offload to the supporting Andy Morrison got Lions off to a good start despite losing Guy Field to a hand injury in the first minute. Aley slotted the conversion for a seven point lead. Miss-handling by the home side in trying to run from their own twenty two, enabled Daniel Parrington to chip ahead. He won the race for the bouncing ball and touched down in the corner. Aley struck the upright with the conversion attempt.
A five metre lineout was won and the drive was on. Three Lions forwards crashed over the line for what appeared to be a certain try. The referee, however deemed the ball to be held up and a five metre scrum was awarded. Rugby began to pressurise the home side and won a penalty five metres from the line. A tap was taken and the ball shipped to Tansley who is hard to stop from that distance. Aley converted to end the half with a healthy looking lead for the visitors.
The first fifteen minutes of the second half were fairly even until the Lions started to concede a string of penalties. Rugby’s scrum was also under severe pressure, and after being shoved back ten metres, a home forward was allowed to run through unopposed for their first score. This was converted and you could sense an increase in the home side’s confidence. The penalty count against Rugby was increasing and Wellingborough were well on top at this stage. Poor tackling allowed the home number ten to scythe through and score under the uprights. This was converted to make the score 14-19.
Lions were conceding penalties at virtually every phase of play and the home side tied the score when their centre dived over in the right hand corner. The conversion from the touch line was good to put Wellingborough in front for the first time. It was one-way traffic at this stage with the home side utilising the wind advantage well. A poor throw-in by the Lions went straight to a home forward who gained twenty metres before being stopped. Lions were defending desperately on their own line until Tansley was shown a yellow card. The referee did not indicate why, but presumably it was for a high tackle. Wellingborough opted for the scrum in front of the posts and easily shoved the Lions back for another converted try.
It all looked over for Rugby as they had hardly put a foot in their opponents half, but they responded well and strong running and handling allowed Louis Smith space to score in the left corner with one minute remaining on the clock. The conversion into the gale drifted wide, but at least that try gave Rugby both the four-try and losing bonus point for their efforts. This could be important as Leighton Buzzard also got two unlikely looking bonus points in their home defeat by Paviors. This leaves Rugby still 20 points ahead of them with only four games left.
In two week’s time (March 23) league leaders Kettering visit Webb Ellis Road for a 3pm kick off.