Pictures by Mike Baker
Action from Webb Ellis Road on Saturday
Midlands 1 East
Rugby Lions 55 Northampton Old Scouts 5
For their last fixture of 2018, Lions welcomed Northampton Old Scouts to Webb Ellis Road, writes Dave Rushall.
Having won comfortably in Northampton back in early September, Lions were looking to complete the double and climb the table with a more settled looking side.
In atrocious conditions with freezing cold driving rain, Lions were soon on the attack. A lineout just inside the visitors’ 22, following a penalty for a high tackle, was duly won and the drive was on. When the fast moving maul reached the five metre mark, Alex Tansley broke from the base, and is unstoppable from that distance. The conversion into the strong wind, failed to find the mark, but Lions were on the scoreboard after five minutes.
Rugby’s pack were quickly gaining the upper hand, and after pushing the visitors back at a rate of knots, and with a penalty advantage, an inside ball from Dave Weston found Mike Howes who ran a great line to touch down near the uprights. Weston was successful with the conversion.
A short throw-in on the visitor’s 22 found Guy Field who burst through before offloading to Chris Wood for Rugby’s third try. Weston was again on target with the conversion. A great scrum by the home pack shoved the visitors off their own ball which enabled the backs to combine and send Louis Smith in at the left corner for Lions’ bonus point try. This time the conversion was missed, and the players scurried off for a half time break in the changing rooms to escape from the horrendous weather conditions.
Rugby came out in clean white shirts for the second half, and normal service was resumed with another well worked back’s move following more dominance from the forwards. The Wood brothers combined well to free Howes down the right wing and an inside pass enabled Andy Morrison to touch down. The conversion attempt struck the upright.
With the strong wind in their faces, Scouts were finding it hard to get out of their own 22, and Lion’s scrum continued their total dominance. A series of rolling mauls reached the visitors' five-metre line before a lost ball halted the advance. Not to be denied, Lions' pack drove the Scouts off their ball for a converted pushover try, which I believe was scored by the excellent Alex Tansley.
A spell of good possession for the visitors got them to halfway, and an attempted clearance kick by the Lions was charged down, and a couple of hacks ahead enabled the Scouts to get on the scoreboard with a nice try.
Back came the Lions and a break down the left from halfway by Louis Smith increased their lead. A lovely blind side chip from Dave Weston was picked up by Sam James who strolled over for a converted try under the posts. Straight from the restart, Martin Wood received the ball and ran though unopposed for another converted try to complete the scoring.
An injury to a Scouts player led the referee to end the game early with four minutes remaining on the clock. Considering the awful conditions, the handling errors from both sides was remarkably low, and credit must go to the visitors, who kept going right to the end.
Another strong performance from the improving Lions will mean the supporters and players will go into the Christmas break in a happy frame of mind.