Two bonus-points from high-flying Oadby Wyggs
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Midlands 1 East
Oadby Wyggestonians 41 Rugby Lions 36
The first game following the Christmas and New Year celebrations saw Rugby Lions travel to Oadby Wyggestonians, writes Dave Rushall.
Back in mid September, Oadby put 60 points on the board at Webb Ellis Road, albeit against a much weakened Lions line-up, so this fixture looked to be a tough task for the Lions.
Straight from the kick-off, you could sense that the Lions were well up for the contest, and a series of strong drives resulted in a penalty in front of the uprights.
They turned down the easy three points and went for the catch and drive. The lineout was duly won, and more strong runs from both forwards and backs led to Louis Addleton crashing over for a well deserved try, converted by Dave Weston.
Oadby are a big side, and they responded with some strong drives of their own, and despite some determined defence by the Lions, they eventually crossed the line for a converted try.
Back came the Lions, and after shoving the huge home pack backwards, the ball was spun down the line to enable Dan Parrington to streak down the touch line to score in the right hand corner against his old club. The difficult conversion was missed, and Oadby responded almost immediately with another forwards drive in the left hand corner, which was converted to give them a narrow 14-12 lead.
Back came the Lions and a good line-out and charge by the excellent Alex Tansley, supported by Sam James got to two metres from the line, under the posts. The ball was shipped left, and some lovely interchange by Martin Wood and Dave Weston allowed just enough space for wing Louis Smith to dive over in the left corner. Weston converted superbly from the touch line to increase Lions’ lead.
Another huge shove by the Lions pack gave them the turnover ball and more lovely handling led to a run from Parrington who was tackled on the right wing. The ball was shipped speedily right across the field, and Martin Wood received the ball 20 metres out on the left. He sped down the line with the home defence unable to lay a hand on him, and Rugby had the try bonus point before half time. The conversion attempt failed but Lions had a well-deserved half-time lead of 14-24.
The home side must have had a good talking to at the break, and they started the second half strongly. Parrington was forced to leave the field with a heavily bruised eye after collecting a knee accidentally in the face. A penalty by the home side reduced the arrears, and Lions were dealt a further blow when captain Chris Wood was shown a yellow card for playing the ball on the ground.
Oadby immediately utilised the extra man advantage to score a converted try and tie the score. The momentum was now with the home side, and it was no surprise when they took the lead with another forward drive. Wood returned to the fray, but two tries were conceded in his absence. With the Lions seemingly going off the boil, the home side scored another converted try and the omens were not looking good for the visitors.
With Rugby attempting to run the ball from their own twenty two, lost possession gifted the home side another try to put them 41-24 ahead, and the visiting supporters looking to have to settle for the one try bonus point.
Lions’ players had other ideas however, and another storming run from Tansley reached the home twenty two. From the base of the ruck, scrum half Jack Brenchley looked up, spotted a gap and streaked through to score by the uprights. The conversion by Weston made the score 41-31 and gave a glimmer of hope for the visiting fans.
The restart was kicked over the dead ball line to give Lions possession on half way. A penalty gave Lions a chance of a catch and drive, and they almost reached the try line before the ball was lost forward and Oadby cleared the ball down field.
Lions were not finished, however, and following some enterprising play from deep in their own half, the ball was fed left to Louis Smith on the left wing who received the ball just inside Lions’ half of the pitch. Showing a great turn of pace, he streaked down the touch line to outpace the defence and score a lovely try in the corner. The difficult conversion was narrowly missed, but Lions were now within five points. They had the chance of snatching an unlikely looking victory, following more good work from the line-out and the drive reached the shadow of the uprights, before another knock-on ruined the opportunity. Oadby gratefully cleared the ball to touch to end an exciting contest.
Apart from the third quarter of the game, this was an excellent performance from the Lions, and they certainly deserved their two bonus points.
This week sees Rugby Lions host Old Northamptonians for a 2.15pm kick-off.