Week off now before next game at Webb Ellis Road
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS, REPORT BY DAVE RUSHALL
Midlands 1 East
West Bridgford 43 Rugby Lions 7
Lions made the trip to Nottingham to take on West Bridgford for round 20 of league action, looking for their second double of the season following a narrow three-point victory at Webb Ellis Road, writes Dave Rushall.
The omens were not good, however, when straight from the kick off, a poor clearance kick from the Lions went straight to an opposing player, who ran the ball back strongly. He was tackled 15 metres out but the home side won the ruck and swept the ball left for the winger to touch down in the corner. The conversion with the blustery wind failed to reach its target.
Rugby did have a spell of pressure for the next 15 minutes, but their rather predictable play was easily repelled by the home side’s superb defence. West Bridgford are a huge strong running side, and it was backs to the wall for the Lions in trying to keep them out for much of the remainder of the first period.
Lions were penalised at a ruck and the home side increased their lead with a penalty from in front of the posts. Poor decision making by the Lions kept the home side on the front foot and captain Chris Wood was then forced to leave the field with an injury, to be replaced by Callum Hopkin. Rugby managed to keep out the home side for the remainder of the half to trail by only eight points, but the immense pressure they were under looked likely to take its toll in the second period.
The second half began in the same fashion as the first, with West Bridgford’s strong running backs scything through weak defence to score a converted try in the first minute. A break from their own 22 led to another score by the home side, despite the pass to the try scorer being well forward. To be fair, the referee was so far behind play that he would not have seen it.
Lions did reduce the arrears following a penalty kick to touch. The catch and drive forced its way over the line with Tom Ainsley claiming his first try in Lions colours. Ricky Aley converted superbly from the touch line to make the score 22-7. The home side responded immediately with another score from their impressive back line.
It was now just a case of how many the home side would score, and following a five metre scrum, a penalty try was awarded although the reason was not obvious. With six minutes left, another run from their own 22 led to another lovely try under the posts for the home side. Lions managed to keep them out for the remainder of the game, but this was a lacklustre display from Rugby, albeit against a very impressive West Bridgford side. Having scored 124 points in their last two games and playing in this manner, it is a wonder that they are not in the top three of this division. One can only assume that they have recruited well recently.
Next week sees a welcome break in league fixtures meaning Lions’ next game is home to Towcestrians on March 2 for a 2.15pm kick off.