RUGBY LIONS: Victory no.18 for unbeaten league leaders
Lions win 27-12 at Malvern
Midlands 2 West (South)
Rugby Lions 27
Having been fortunate enough to have been victorious in our previous 17 outings this season; number 18 was being treated as a real banana skin… as I rolled out of bed, know I certainly had a bad case of the heebie-jeebies last Saturday morning, writes Player Coach Rob Dignum.
Malvern at their splendid Spring Lane home is a tough place to get a win.
They have only lost once at home all season to second in the league Silhillians, similarly one loss in the last three months, being pipped in the final act of play at Spartans… and while in geek-mode, Spartans are the only other side in the league with a 100% home record, including ourselves… suffice to say therefore, this was going to be a real test.
Happily, like our hosts, we had most players available for this one and are not in a hurry to slip up anytime soon.
The game got underway at a frenetic pace with Lions on the attack and Malvern defending in a Trojan-like manner; in truth this was the theme for much of the match, Malvern were not budging.
Early on, sadly Lions lost influential back Jerry Turagabeci to an innocuous looking challenge that turned out to be a broken leg that will keep him side lined for the rest of the season… we wish you a speedy recovery Jerry.
Against the run of play and on one of Malvern’s first attacks their intent was made abundantly clear - they were going to chuck the ball around without a care in the world. This they did quite spectacularly for the entire match and should be commended for their high skill level and ambition.
The ball made its way from one side of the field to the other, their free-flowing style of play effective. With the defence depleted, fly half Jack Longley (I am so old I used to play against his Director of Malvern Rugby father, Andy Longley) chipped through for left wing Tom Hale to scorch on to and dot down under the posts.
Mr Hale was well known by us from our previous encounter scoring all Malvern’s points last time round. He is quick, powerful and a real handful and has already amassed a flock of tries to his name this season.
7-0 to Malvern, no real panic as we very much on top up front and the game had generally been us going forward and Malvern bashing everything in front of them.
Huge Lions territory and possession for large parts of the first half saw captain Chris Wood, Alex Tansley and Charlie Paxton all dotting down for a deserved 7-19 lead with half time approaching. Akin to last week, on the stroke of half time, we did our usual crowd pleasing best to make things more exciting.
This always does one of a number of things, among them, zooms Head Coach Dave Addleton’s blood pressure up, and guarantees a tough half time rollicking. Cue him again, Tom Hale burning past four would-be tacklers (sadly one of them me) on 40 minutes, to touch down in the corner from 60m out: half time Malvern 12-19 Lions.
The second forty took the same guise as the first, very much a case of Lions forwards squeezing their opposite numbers in the tight and
Malvern’s backline zinging the ball about like maniacs, supported by a young and hugely effective back row, led ably by Sam Parsons who played like a man possessed, tackling everything in his path and bravely pilfering ball at regular intervals; despite my very polite request for him not to.
Chris Wood crossed for his second (despite complaints from Jack Brenchley that it was he who had bagged the score) and Lions’ fourth try on the hour mark to secure the try bonus.
Joe Higgins later stretched the lead with a simple three points from in front to put the game out of reach. Held up over the line on two occasions and a questionable decision when the official opted to wave play on when the Malvern nine, inches from his try line, kicked the ball out from under Chris Wood’s feet as the away scrum hurtled forward, alas no further scores were added. The whistle sounded for a final score of Malvern 12-27 Lions.
This was a really good game, for both sides, Malvern were fantastic throughout, throwing the kitchen sink, the draining board and a few scourers at us and we had come out on top having had to dig deep. In the bar it was compliments all round and drinks shared; Malvern delighted with their defiant shift and we Lions similarly joyful with ours.
I do like a boozy bus trip and much merriment was observed upon our return home; Tansley and Addleton announcing themselves as team lyrical wizards!
Next up for this ever-improving and wonderful set of mates is Nuneaton at home, just for a change, yet another side that will have a pop at us, no doubt intent on revenge, buoyed by their impressive victory over Pinley in their last outing.
Until then however, it is still very much a case of feet on the ground, work hard at training and I am relatively sure, a huge surge of onwards and upwards for these lovely Lions lads.