Shrewsbury 13 Lichfield RUFC 33

Lichfield travelled to Shrewsbury expecting a tough physical encounter and were not disappointed.

The late withdrawal of Chris Adams meant that James Perrins started at back row and Rich Burton was drafted into the first team squad for his first appearance.

Things started badly for Lichfield. They failed to control the ball from the kick off and were forced to go off their feet at the ruck to gift Shrewsbury an early penalty opportunity in front of the posts which they duly converted for a 3-0 lead with barely a minute on the clock.

Lichfield worked their way back into the game and Luke Massey began to get his back line working, causing Shrewsbury enormous defensive problems.

Mark Rose, who is showing tremendous promise in his debut season rounded off a great move in the 19th minute to score a try and bagged another in the 27th minute, this time a fine individual effort.

Neil Antcliffe, who is showing excellent consistency with the boot, converted both and Lichfield were ahead 14-3.

Shrewsbury, who were promoted last season have a proud home record and were stung into action. They kept Lichfield penned in their 22 and eventually the pressure told when they scored a try from an effective driving line out to edge closer at 14 – 8.

James Perrins then capped a fine display by bagging a try, Antcliffe again converting, to make it 21-8.

There then followed a popular try for the home team second row, who intercepted a wayward pass during a promising Lichfield counter attack and cantered home from the half way despite the best efforts of Lichfield skipper Dave Bassett. This brought the score to 21- 1.

With half time approaching Lichfield got on the score board again, Jack Sporcic rounding off a slick move up the blind side after an excellent period of continuity from the Myrtle Greens making the score 26 – 13 at the interval.

After the break, Ngoma replaced Adams, who narrowly failed to bag his first try of the season; Bryant replaced a hard working Sowden and Burton made an impressive debut at blind side replacing Perrins.

Sam Baker made a welcome return to the first team after an injury troubled season last year and made an immediate impact with his direct running. Only poor passes prevented him marking his return with a try.

The Lichfield pack strived hard all day, Axton and Hicks toiling diligently in the second row and

Thompson working hard to distribute the ball from number eight and also making valuable ground in attack. Nick Smith was ever present in attack and defence and Dave Butler did well to service Massey whilst under enormous pressure from the Shrewsbury nine, who played the referee very effectively.

Sowden, Gabbitass, latterly Bryant and Bassett were doing their best to cope with some interesting law interpretations and in spite of this Lichfield will be disappointed not to have scored a few more points.

Defensively, particularly second half this was a far tighter performance than in their last outing.

The second half was a comparatively low scoring affair, Saneliso Ngoma, scoring from a neat Sporcic chip through, Antcliffe again converting to make it 33-13 to Lichfield at the final whistle.

Lichfield entertain Stafford this week and with the second team recording a fine 34-0 win way at Longton the omens are promising for a productive season.

Lichfield continue to show great enterprise and are developing their off loading game whilst also adding a steely edge to their defence.

Lichfield: Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Hicks, Axton, Perrins, Smith, Thompson; Butler, L Massey, Sporcic, Antcliffe, Adams, Baker, Rose. Subs: Bryant, Burton and Ngoma.