Second-half comeback earns four-try bonus point
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS, REPORT BY DAVE RUSHALL
Midlands 1 East
Rugby Lions 24 Kettering 54
League leaders Kettering were the latest visitors to Webb Ellis Road, and not for the first time this season Lions were missing at least six first choice players for various reasons, writes Dave Rushall.
At least they were able to welcome back globetrotting prop James Wilsher-Aiken for his first appearance this campaign, although he was forced to play in the second row due to missing personnel.
The visitors were very lively from the off and following some lovely handling crossed the line in the second minute for their first converted try. Two more well-worked scores followed in quick succession and the visitors were 21 points up in as many minutes, and the home supporters were beginning to fear the worst.
Rugby responded well, and a lovely deft chip by Rickie Aley ten metres from the line was taken by Andy Morrison who touched down under the posts. Bizarrely Aley attempted a drop goal conversion from five metres out and pushed the ball wide of the left upright.
Back came Kettering with a number of forward drives which resulted in a string of penalties against the Lions. A quick tap was taken from five metres out and the ball touched down with the Lions players just watching. The conversion drifted just wide of the uprights but Kettering had the try bonus point in the bag.
A four to one overlap down the left hand side for the visitors was not needed and the try was scored in the corner. A superb conversion made the half time score 5-33.
With Lions' already depleted squad losing more players to injury and the almost constant defending, the omens were not looking good for the second half. To their credit, they competed well in this period and matched the visitors with three tries apiece. It did not start too well, however, with a well-worked converted try for Kettering.
Lions responded with a catch and drive in front of the clubhouse with Louis Addleton emerging with the ball. The conversion attempt sailed just left of the uprights. Straight from the restart, a wild pass in Lions' own twenty two was collected by a visiting player for a gift of a try.
Lions attempted to repeat the catch and drive tactic and following a number of penalties, a Kettering player was shown a yellow card. Unfortunately the line-out was lost and the danger cleared.
A Lions scrum five metres out was shoved off the ball and a simple try for the visitors was again converted to extend Kettering’s lead. Lions were not finished however, and number eight Martin Wood picked the ball up from a retreating scrum and sprinted 30 metres to the line, shaking off a number of opponents as he went. Aley converted, and Lions were one try away from a bonus point.
Another five metre throw from in front of the clubhouse was won but the maul went down. A drive from the impressive Martin Wood set up a ruck and the ball was shipped down the line for Parrington to collect 20 metres out. He scooted through a tiny gap in the visitors' defence to give the Lions a deserved try bonus point for all their efforts. The conversion by Aley completed the scoring.
Kettering are a very good team and it is easy to see why they are top of the league. This was a very entertaining contest played in a good spirit. Congratulations must go to Josh Lockley, a true club man, who made his 100th appearance in a Lions shirt.
Next week sees the Lions travel to Leighton Buzzard who are just below them in the table. Kick-off is 3pm.