Pictures by Ray Andrews
Midlands 1 West
Camp Hill 10 Rugby Lions 45
Rugby visited Camp Hill in what was the most crucial fixture of the season, with a Lions defeat seeing them drop into the relegation zone, writes Dave Rushall.
Following nine straight defeats, Lions’ faithful band of supporters - who travelled in hope rather than expectation - were to witness a fully committed performance from their side which saw them outscore the home team by six tries to one and rack up their biggest points haul of the season.
Right from the kick-off Lions’ desire and intensity was on a different level from recent weeks and they were soon on the scoreboard with a penalty by Dave Weston. Alex Tansley was first to cross the whitewash after fourteen minutes following a series of strong drives by the pack. Weston added the extras for a ten point lead.
Camp Hill responded strongly but were unable to find the precision needed to break through Lions’ defence. Half-backs Curtis and Higgins were combining well and Fijian full-back Simione Bituwaqa looked dangerous whenever he had the ball. When the home side did eventually break the Lions’ defence they were denied the try with the final pass deemed to be forward.
They were rewarded shortly after, however, when a huge gap in Lions’ defence allowed a simple run through for a converted try. Another penalty by Weston extended Lions’ lead to six points and straight from the restart a strong run and chip ahead from Sam Herrington almost reached the try line before the ball was shipped left down the back line for Ash Williams to touch down. The conversion attempt failed to find the mark to leave the half time score at 7-18 to Rugby.
The home side started the second period strongly and were rewarded with a penalty to reduce the arrears. Camp Hill were attempting to run the ball from deep in their own half, and great vision by Stuart Lee enabled a simple intercept and straight forward try.
With the Lions having a penalty advantage on the home 22, a deft chip across to the left wing by Weston saw Lee gratefully accept the opportunity to give Lions the four-try bonus point. Weston converted from the touch line to extend the lead to 20 points.
To their credit, Camp Hill came back strongly and were camped on Lions’ line for some time but unable to apply the finishing touch. Lions won possession on their own line, and a lovely series of strong runs by Liam Munro, Tansley, subs Jordan Diston and Maika Burenivalu resulted in Herrington diving over from a ruck from a metre out. The conversion was missed but Lions’ victory was secure.
A penalty by Weston further extended Lions’ lead before James Wilsher-Aiken gleefully crashed over near the uprights. The successful conversion ended the game for a vital and well-deserved victory. The final score-line may have flattered the Lions a little, but it was an abject lesson in how to take your chances.
Over Easter the Lions have no game, the next fixture being home to second-placed Dudley Kingswinford on April 4 for a 3pm kick-off.