Stafford RUFC 24 Lichfield RUFC 35

Lichfield Rugby Club badgeLichfield came through their first competitive test of the season against a strong Stafford team.

Enterprise and adventure were on show from Lichfield right from the start and the pace of the game took their opponents by surprise.

Lichfield struck first, Jack Sporcic showing real pace, rounding the defence to score a fine try converted by Luke Massey to make the score 7-0.

In the 11th minute Lichfield opened up the Stafford defence, Jack Sporcic again slicing through the home team to go in under the posts. Luke Massey again converting to take the score out to 14-0.

Nick Smith, making a welcome return to the Lichfield side was hugely influential at openside, causing Stafford all sorts of problems at the break down. He got his reward in the 23d minute when he supported another Lichfield break to take the final pass to score out wide, Massey again converting to extend the lead to 21-0. 

Stafford responded by exerting real pressure on the Lichfield defence, who held firm but after missing an earlier penalty the Stafford number 10 was this time successful in the 32nd minute to narrow the gap to 21-3.

Stafford started the second half determinedly and although under pressure in the tight, began to take on Lichfield with some direct rugby, putting together a number of phases and denying Lichfield possession.

However Lichfield’s midfield of Massey, Antcliffe and Adams were a constant menace and after carving open the home defence, Matty Brown was on hand to take the final pass and dance around the remaining defenders to score a fine try and make it 26-3 to the away side. The back three of Ngoma, Sporcic and Brown were combining well, Ngoma enjoying the freedom at full back to make numerous telling incursions into the line.

Early in the second half Sporcic retired hurt to be replaced by Mike Castle and Matt Smith, making his debut, replaced Jim Clarke, who had had another fine game, at scrum half.

Lichfield’s forwards had been dominant at the set piece but were being penalised heavily at the breakdown and this was disrupting their rhythm. However in broken play their offloading game was evident and they showed huge enterprise and endeavour in support throughout the match.

Bassett, Sowden and Gabbitass, making his first team debut were outstanding in the set piece, Menmuir and Hicks providing a solid platform in the boiler house and a good work rate around the park and the back row of Adams, Smith and Thompson were superb all game.

Albutt replaced Adams in the back row and made an instant impression with his all action style. However Stafford had now been stung into action and Lichfield were probably guilty of being a little over adventurous at times giving their opponents the opportunity to capitalise on some errors.

In the 62nd minute Stafford scored a deserved try and repeated the feat in the 70th minute with another fine effort, converting both to narrow the score to 26-17.

In the 75th Minute Lichfield got some breathing space when Joe Thompson rounded off an excellent performance by scoring a fine try to put Lichfield seemingly safe at 31-17.

Stafford had other ideas and kept pressing the Lichfield side and were rewarded with a penalty in the 78th minute and a try in the 79th minute to put them only a score away at 31-25.

Lichfield were then given a penalty wide out on the touch line and Luke Massey coolly slotted it between the uprights to take Lichfield two scores clear at 34-25.

This was a very entertaining fixture with eight tries and both sides playing some attractive rugby.

The league fixture promises to be just as competitive and tight when they renew hostilities at Cooke Fields in October.

Lichfield team: Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Hicks, Menmuir, C Adams, N Smith, Thompson; Clark, L Massey, Sporcic, Antcliffe, T Adams, Brown, Ngoma. Subs: Knibbs, Bryant, Squire, Albutt, M Smith, J Massey and Castle.