Nick Walton

RUGBY PICTURES: Victory for Rugby Lions, but Olney belie lowly league position

Pictures by Mike Baker

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 4:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 4:52 pm

Midlands 1 East: Rugby Lions 22 Olney 15

The first team to visit Webb Ellis Road in 2020 were Olney, writes Dave Rushall.

Having only one victory to their name so far this season, and with the Lions having scored 56 points at their ground back in September, you might have thought this would have been a straight forward victory.

This certainly was not the case, and Olney pushed the Lions hard all the way.

Lions started well enough and pinned the visitors deep in their own half with a series of forward drives before prop Edward Herring picked up and crashed over the line. Lions could have had a couple more tries but were tackled just short of the line.

Olney responded well and despite being destroyed in the scrums, in open play they put together a number of good phases and retained possession well, eventually winning a penalty in front of the posts for a high tackle. The kick struck both uprights and bounced back into the arms of the kicker which only maintained the pressure on the home defence. Another penalty to Olney was this time successful to reduce Lions’ lead to 5-3.

Straight from the restart Rugby won a penalty and Kris McFedries’ kick struck the right hand upright, but dropped over the bar to restore their lead to five points. Olney continued to run the ball at every opportunity, but Lions’ defence held firm for the remainder of the half.

Rugby eased the supporter’s anxiety a little when Phil Reed and Andy Morrison combined beautifully to allow Lions’ impressive new full back Theo Knight to score near the uprights. McFedries converted to make the score 15-3.

The second half was mostly uninspiring until Lions made the result secure following a lineout. The ball was knocked back loosely by the visitors and Martin Wood pounced to charge through for a third try to the home side. McFedries converted well for 22-3.

To their credit, Olney’s players didn’t let their heads go down, and they continued to put the pressure on Lions’ defence. This paid off after a string of penalties were awarded against Rugby. A quick tap kick was taken in front of the posts and the ball was swung wide left where the Olney centre scored a nicely worked try.

The conversion reduced the deficit to 22-10. Lions were looking for the bonus point fourth try, but their execution let them down, and indeed it was Olney who deservedly secured the losing bonus point with a try in the corner.

This Saturday Lions travel to high flying Oundle for a 2.15pm start.

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