Lichfield RUFC 41 Stafford RUFC 7

Action from Lichfield's game against Stafford

Action from Lichfield's game against Stafford

Lichfield maintained their unbeaten league run after brushing aside near neighbours Stafford in a strong second half display.

The game began with Stafford taking the initiative with some direct running and good continuity.

Lichfield’s defence was given an early test but they always looked threatening and in the 10th minute they were rewarded with a spectacular and rare try from Mark Bryant and it was nice to see the front row rewarded as so much of their work goes unnoticed. It was duly converted by Neil Antcliffe to give Lichfield an early 7-0 lead.

This was doubled in the 18th minute when Ngoma went over for a fine try, converted by Antcliffe to make it 14-0.

Stafford were far from finished and they scored an excellent try, from a counter attack, great support play and handling seeing their scrum half go in under the posts to make it a simple conversion and narrow the margin to 14-7.

At this stage Lichfield were probably guilty of playing too much expansive rugby and Baker and Sporcic on the wings found that they had little room to exploit their pace.

Lichfield turned round for the second half against the wind knowing that they had to be more astute at tying in the Stafford defence and would have to be more direct in their approach.

Massey took charge of the backs bringing Antcliffe and Tom Adams into the game to threaten the Stafford midfield and the back row of Burton, Thompson and Smith were beginning to get on top of their opposite numbers with Butler using the back row, particularly Thompson, to drive at the Stafford defence in an attempt to stretch them and gain an opening.

This duly came in the 45th minute, Butler neatly switching play up the blind side to allow Rich Burton to score a try on his full league debut.

Antcliffe narrowly missed against the wind and Lichfield found themselves 19-7 in front.

Lichfield continued to find holes with their direct approach and it wasn’t long before Sporcic rounded off a fine move to stretch Lichfield’s lead to 24-7.

Stafford kept looking for an opening but the tight 5 of Bassett, Bryant, Gabbitass, Squire and Hicks were resolute around the fringes and were forcing Stafford back.

In the 55th minute and with Stafford tiring Ngoma picked a great line to score another try, converted by Antcliffe to make it 31-7.

Action from Lichfield's game against Stafford

Action from Lichfield's game against Stafford

Lichfield were denied further scores from Sporcic, Ngoma and Baker after some interesting decisions from the referee, none the less Lichfield kept plugging away and scored another try in the 60th minute through Squire, crashing over from a ruck near the line to make it 36-7.

Squire then repeated the feat in the 70th minute from a similar position to make the final score 41-7 to Lichfield.

Squire left the field injured and was replaced by Harrison who gave a fine account of himself at blind side flanker, a change from his usual role in the front row.

Perrins replaced Burton and again acquitted himself well and Rose rounded off the replacements by changing with Antcliffe.     

A good performance against stubborn opponents and one which saw tries spread evenly amongst the forwards and backs, an indication that Lichfield pose a threat throughout the team and are capable of adapting their game to suit the opposition.

Lichfield travel away to Stourbridge, where they struggled last year so will be aware that they have to maintain a high degree of commitment to keep their promotion challenge alive.

On a negative note Mark Rose picked up an injury toward the end of the game which may see him out for two weeks; however this will give another of Lichfield’s talented squad the opportunity to gain experience in the first team.                  

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

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