Another Junior Vase victory over higher league opposition
RFU Midlands Junior Vase
Barton under Needwood 21
Rugby Lions 29
Rugby Lions completed a fourth RFU Midlands Junior Vase victory over higher-ranked opponents with this very well contested game on Barton’s tight and wet pitch with a stiff breeze blowing from one end to the other.
The Lions were cheered on by another very good turn out of supporters who were exceptionally well looked after by the home club.
But on the pitch the welcome was less generous with Barton dominating the early minutes, subjecting full back Jamie Whiteside to a bodyslam tackle and inevitably scoring the first converted try for 7-0 on just 7 minutes.
But Rugby then got themselves into game mode and hit back with flanker Josh Lockley’s try following Adam Attenborough’s run.
Both Lions’ wings, Attenborough and James Scott, threatened despite the small pitch but their next try came from a flanker again, with Tom Kimberley’s score converted by Gareth Bott for 7-12 on 22 minutes.
Attenborough’s 26th-minute second try from a 6-metre scrum meant Lions were 7-17 ahead playing into the wind but they had to defend very strongly as Barton finished the half as well as they had begun.
Rugby looked to kick for territory with the wind behind them in the second half but they were not finding touch or spaces as well as required and blind passing also caused several knock ons.
Nonetheless, the tie appeared won when Ben Husthwaite muscled his way over for a try converted by Bott for 7-24 on 45 minutes.
Lions do not yet seem able to play their most intense rugby through a full 80 minutes and in the last quarter Barton clearly looked the side most likely to score. But that score did not come until the 72 minute for 14-24.
Lions responded with Whiteside’s fine left-foot kick down the touchline leading to a Barton error and Robert Walton scored after returning from the sin bin to put his side a decisive three scores ahead at 14-29.
Late Barton pressure secured another converted try but they could do no more and Lions’ amazing run in this competition was still on track.
Rugby Lions: Whiteside, Scott, Forde, Bott, A Attenborough, Dignum, Collins, Kilburn, Lawson, Nurse, Hill, Walton, Kimberley, Lockley, Hustwaite. Reps: Machon, W Attenborough, Everton, Morgan, Renard
Rugby will meet Cannock, Cleethorpes or Long Buckby in the Junior Vase Midlands semi-final on February 1.
This Saturday (28th), Rugby Lions play Old Leamingtonians at Webb Ellis Road (ko 2pm) in the Warwickshire Shield. OLs are a full three divisions above Lions lying in fourth place in Midlands 2 West (South). The club will not consider this anything other than another game to win but even if victory does look a very long shot even for this Lions side, it will be very useful in letting the team management gain insights into the real strengths and weaknesses of the squad with an eye on what will be required if they are to compete at a higher level next season.
PICTURE: RAY ANDREWS