Maximum points so far as Lions step up to Midlands 1 West
PICTURES BY MIKE BAKER
Midlands 1 West
Rugby Lions 33 Melbourne 15
By Dave Rushall
For their opening home league match in the current campaign, Lions welcomed Derbyshire side Melbourne for their first ever visit to Webb Ellis Road. Like Rugby, Melbourne won their league last season (Midlands 2 East - North) to gain promotion to this level.
Lions started brightly with a series of forward drives which were defended well by the visitors on their try line. With the Lions controlling possession, a drive from a lineout saw Louis Addleton crash over for his first try in a Lions shirt. The conversion from the touch line was superbly struck by Dave Weston for a seven-point lead.
From the visitors’ first visit to Lions’ half, Jonny Ure was shown a yellow card for a high tackle in attempting to bring down his opposite number. This resulted in a spell of pressure by the visitors, and a deft chip by their fly-half to the corner saw Adam Attenborough fumble the spinning ball and concede the try in the corner. This seemed to lift the visitors and increase the anxiety in Lions play.
From a ruck on the visitors’ 22 in front of the clubhouse, the ball was spun down the ‘back’ line with Chris Wood, Tom Cheney and Sam Herrington involved and Attenborough gratefully received the ball to touch down in the corner. Another superb conversion by Weston gave Lions a healthy looking 14-5 lead. This was soon reduced, however with a penalty to Melbourne. Worse was to follow when a loose clearance kick failed to find touch, and a cross-field run by Melbourne’s winger was unchallenged, giving the visitors a one point lead. Back came Rugby, and a near repeat try with Wood and Herrington feeding Attenborough on the left, was thwarted by a defender’s hand knocking the ball back. Stuart Lee was first to react and he managed to dive on the ball just before it crossed the dead ball line. The conversion from the touch line gave Lions a 21-15 lead at half time.
The second half saw an increasing number of unforced errors and wrong options creep into Lions’ play and it became extremely frustrating for the home supporters. A long spell of scrappy play was eventually broken when Herrington broke through and was hauled down just short of the line. He managed to slip the ball to Jack Brenchley to score the try and secure the try bonus point. The conversion was missed, but at least Lions were two scores ahead with time running out.
Melbourne were forced to risk everything to get back into the game, and in doing so, a loose pass just outside their 22 was intercepted by Ure to dot down under the posts. Weston converted to make the final score a little flattering for the Lions. Another five points in the bag, but plenty to work on in training prior to the next encounter.
Moseley Oak’s ground is unavailable for a few weeks, so next Saturday’s fixture has been reversed, and will be played at Webb Ellis Road at 3pm.