RUGBY PICTURES: Lions rescue win over Melbourne with last-minute try
Pictures by Ray Andrews
Midlands 1 East: Rugby Lions 22 Melbourne 20
Rugby Lions completed the first round of league fixtures with the visit to Webb Ellis Road of Derbyshire side Melbourne, writes Dave Rushall.
Lions started brightly and were soon on the scoreboard following a strong run by Martin Wood from a lineout ten metres out. Phil Reed jinked through the defence to score under the uprights and Kris McFedries converted for an early seven point lead.
Lions were beginning to exert their superiority up front and a penalty won by the pack increased their lead.
Undaunted, the lively visiting backs looked dangerous and were only denied on a couple of occasions by some last ditch tackling. They did reduce the deficit with a penalty.
Following a period of pressure deep inside the visitors’ 22, Chris Wood picked up from the base of a scrum and fed Phil Reed wide out on the right. With four defenders on him, a lovely inside ball allowed Andy Morrison to stroll over for the try, converted by McFedries and Lions finished the half with a comfortable looking 17-3 lead.
The second period was a shambolic affair from the Lions with almost every conceivable way of conceding possession plainly on view.
Melbourne thought they had driven over the line under the posts after the restart had not gone ten metres, but the referee deemed the ball to be held up. At the resulting five metre scrum Lions were penalised and a quick tap by the scrum half enabled a simple converted try and the visitors were back in contention.
Guy Field and James Wilshire Aitkin were forced off with injury and were replaced by Louis Addleton and Ben Nuttall. Losing those two big guys seemed to nullify Lions advantage up front, and it was Melbourne who gained the upper hand in this area.
A penalty for the visitors reduced the deficit to only four points, and the momentum was totally with them.
Lions were defending desperately, and conceded another penalty in front of the posts to reduce their advantage to only one point.
Another loose clearance kick went into the arms of the visiting number six, and he set off towards the line, scoring untouched for a deserved 20-17 lead.
With time running out Lions managed to get into the Melbourne half for the first time and a penalty at a scrum enabled them to gain a lineout 12 metres from the line. They drove over the line, but the referee could not see the ball and awarded a five metre scrum, although Ben Nuttall was on the ground with ball under him.
Melbourne conceded another penalty at the scrum and with advantage being played, Phil Reed put a neat grubber kick through, but a defender just won the race to the ball. The referee came back for the penalty and the catch and drive was again called for.
With the clock showing six minutes of added time, it was do or die for the Lions. The drive began to gain momentum with Martin Wood claiming the score for what must have been a heartbreaking defeat for Melbourne.
This Saturday Lions travel to Old Northamptonians for a 2.15pm start.