Great team performance ands dismal run of results
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Midlands 1 East
Rugby Lions 20 West Bridgford 17
West Bridgford were the latest visitors to Webb Ellis Road, with Lions looking to get back to winning ways following a dismal run of results, writes Dave Rushall.
Lions were without Guy Field, James Faulkner, Josh Lockley and Mike Howes for various reasons but were able to welcome back Dave Weston and Alex Tansley, who both went on to give influential performances.
In sharp contrast to last week’s blue skies and warm sunshine, Lions kicked off into a freezing cold wind and driving rain. Cold hands and a wet ball led to a number of handling errors early on, and Lions were able to pin the visitors in their own half, although their defence was strong and they managed to halt a number of driving runs from the home side.
When West Bridgford did breach the halfway line, they took the lead with a penalty from in front of the uprights. A number of deft chips by Weston was keeping the visitors on the back foot, and their defence was being severely stretched. Weston then tied the scores after West Bridgford were penalised for playing the ball on the floor in front of the posts.
Back came the visitors, and a neat offload allowed the number eight to stroll through the gap and score a good converted try under the posts. Lions responded almost immediately, and with the referee (who was excellent) playing an advantage for a knock-on, Kris McFedries chipped to the corner and the bobbling ball evaded the defender to allow Ben Davison to chip ahead and touch down just before the ball reached the dead ball line. Weston converted from wide out to tie the score at ten all.
With time almost up in the first period, Lions went for a catch and drive in the right hand corner, and although the catch was taken, the visitors’ defence just held out until Weston opted for a drop goal to give the Lions a slender three point advantage at half time.
The second half began with West Bridgford on the front foot, and it was Lion’s turn to defend until a lovely grubber kick from Weston relieved the pressure. A typical storming run by Tansley was just thwarted despite knocking three opponents out of the way. Captain Chris Wood was then forced to leave the field with what looked like a hand injury, to be replaced by Jack Brenchley.
With the wind and rain at their backs, it was Lions’ turn to reapply the pressure, and despite a couple of driving mauls just failing to reach the try line, the visitors were unable to get out of their own 22. A desperate clearance kick failed to reach its mark and Martin Wood collected the loose ball 20 metres out and stormed through six defenders for an excellent try. Weston added the extras to put the home side ten points clear.
West Bridgford were not about to capitulate however, and came back strongly to exert some pressure of their own. Lions defence seemed to be holding up well until a loose ball from a maul was picked up by a West Bridgford forward to dive over near the posts for a converted try.
With conditions worsening, it was the home side doing all the defending, but they managed to hold on for a much-needed and deserved victory.
All credit to West Bridgford who kept going till the final whistle, and they certainly deserved their losing bonus point.
A great team performance from the Lions with every player doing his bit for the side.
Next week Lions travel to Towcestrians for a 2.30pm kick off.