Another vital league game on Saturday as Northampton Old Scouts visit Webb Ellis Road
PICTURES BY RAY ANDREWS
Midlands 1 East
Lutterworth 31 Rugby Lions 26
To complete the first half of this season’s league fixtures, Rugby made the short trip to play local rivals Lutterworth who had a 100% record on their own ground, writes Dave Rushall.
Lions kicked off with a strong wind at their backs and were soon on the attack. Strong runs from Charlie Paxton and Alex Tansley led to the ball being switched right and captain Chris Wood touched down in the corner. The conversion was missed, but a penalty to touch by Dave Weston gained at least 70 metres. The lineout was duly won and the drive set in motion. Despite the maul being pulled down, Tansley picked up at the base and went down the blind side to score in the same corner as Wood. This time the conversion from a similar position was on target and Lions were 12 points to the good.
The home side’s large pack responded well, but Lions’ defence held up strongly although the referee deemed illegally, and Sam James was shown a yellow card for an apparent misdemeanour. Two Lutterworth scrums on Lions’ five metre line were won by the Lions although the referee was not happy and reset them both. When the ball was eventually won, the maul was turned and looked to have gone into touch. Bizarrely a penalty try was awarded much to the Lions players’ bemusement.
Lions were falling foul of the referee’s interpretation and were being penalised at regular intervals, and two more yellow cards were handed out, Dave Weston and Louis Addleton. One of these penalties was converted to reduce the home side’s deficit to two points.
When Rugby were eventually awarded a penalty of their own, two more strong charges from Tansley got to within two metres of the line, and the supporting Sam James was on hand to crash over the line under the uprights for a try converted by Weston.
Right at the end of the first half, two breakaway tries by the home backs gave the home side an against the run of play 24-19 lead.
With the wind now in the home side’s favour, it was backs to the wall for Lions who were struggling to run the ball out of their own half. Eventually the pressure told, and a five metre scrum was driven over to extend Lutterworth’s lead to 12 points and earn them the try bonus point.
After weathering the storm, Lions’ resolve was impressive and they forced themselves back into the contest. A penalty was despatched to touch seven metres out and the catch and drive was on. The resulting maul was heading for the try line, but by various means the progress was halted. The momentum was now with Rugby and they piled the pressure on. Camped on the home try line, the ball was taken at speed by Charlie Paxton ten metres out and he crashed over for a well-deserved try to earn the visitors a four-try bonus point. Weston converted to make the score 31-26. Lutterworth kept possession until time was up, and were only too glad to kick the ball out to end the game.
A thoroughly good performance by the Lions and the two bonus points gained were well deserved. Another vital game next Saturday when Rugby host Northampton Old Scouts for a 2.15pm start.