Two bonus points again from entertaining encounter at Webb Ellis Road
Pictures by Ray Andrews. Report by Geoff Buck
Midlands 1 East: Rugby Lions 30 Lutterworth 33
Lions' last home game of the season was against local rivals Lutterworth and this was another closely fought contest, writes Geoff Buck.
Last December at the reverse fixture Lions narrowly lost but gained two points for a narrow defeat and scoring four tries. Little did we know that history would repeat itself on Saturday.
On a sunny afternoon with a cool north breeze blowing up the pitch, conditions were good for an open game of running rugby. Lions fielding a strong team against a Lutterworth side missing a number of younger players away on county duty. A closely fought game was expected and that’s what we got.
Lutterworth kicked off up the slope and utter confusion in the Lions defence allowed James Thomas to bundle over for a try before the scoreboard had registered a minute’s play. Tom Hooper slotted over a relatively easy conversion.
Lions regained the initiative quickly and spent a period of time camped in the Lutterworth 22. Daniel Parrington came close to scoring from a well judged cross kick by Rickie Aley before Louis Smith forced his way over following quick handling by the Lions backs. The conversion was missed, after 12 minutes 5-7.
Yet again the pendulum swung back in the visitors’ favour. Following a throw to the back of the lineout, the ball was channelled across the backs where Tom Hooper scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.
Lions continued to play open rugby. Following a scrum in their own 22, Lions moved the ball quickly across the backs allowing Daniel Parrington to beat his opposition winger and kick ahead. Unfortunately, close to the Lutterworth line, the ball was knocked on denying a certain score. However the Lions were now camped in the Lutterworth half and following a number of sorties Chris Wood went over to register the Lions second try. This time Aley’s conversion hit the bar and bounced out making the score 10-12.
The last ten minutes of the half saw Lions take the game to Lutterworth with good support play from the forwards, allowing the backs to impose themselves. However, Lions were penalised at a scrum close to the Lutterworth line. The ensuing touch kick was missed and the ball was quickly moved across the Lions backs, allowing Louis Smith to crash over in the corner. The conversion was narrowly missed but Lions were now ahead 15-12. Due to a number of stoppages for injury the first half lasted 47 minutes and in that time Lions conceded a penalty for a high tackle which Tom Hooper kicked to make the score 15 all at half time.
Lions kicked off the second half attacking the score board end but it became increasingly apparent that they were struggling at the scrums and therefore rarely able to dictate things from the tight. Lutterworth pinned the Lions close to their line and infringements in the pack saw Callum Hopkin and Charlie Paxton both yellow carded reducing the home side to thirteen men. From the resulting set scrum Harry Wood powered over for the visitors’ third try. Tom Hooper again converted. Now 15-22.
From the kick off Lutterworth were penalised for off side allowing Aley’s penalty to reduce the deficit to 18-22. Despite the Lions willingness to run the ball at every opportunity penalties at the scrum quickly totted up and Lutterworth added a further penalty from Tom Hooper’s boot stretching the lead to seven points. (18-25) Having returned to fifteen men Lions scrum continued to struggle and Lutterworth made the most of penalty decisions pinning the home side into their 22. From a resultant line out Lutterworth added a further try when John Connor scored in the corner.
But Lions came roaring back. From the kick off Parrington tapped the ball back, Alex Tansley broke through a number of tackles before releasing Mick Howes to score close to the corner. Aley’s conversion hit the post. (23-30)
A further scrummaging infringement by the Lions saw Tom Hooper slot over a relatively easy penalty which increased Lutterworth’s lead to ten points (33 -23). But Lions were not done yet and during the last five minutes exerted massive pressure on the Lutterworth line. From a 5 metre line out a rolling maul saw Tansley touch down for Lions’ fourth try. Aley converted to reduce the deficit to three points. Despite four extra minutes Lions were unable to add to the score and had to settle for a narrow defeat.
In retrospect this was a close, entertaining encounter played in the right spirit. The difference only being Lutterworth’s dominance in the scrum. Next week sees the final fixture of the 2018-19 season with a trip to lowly Melton Mowbray, kick off at 3pm.