Lichfield RUFC 43 Willenhall RFC 15

Lichfield’s run of good form continued as they saw off the challenge of Willenhall.

The hosts kicked off in near perfect conditions for running rugby hoping to put together an 80 minute performance against  their near rivals.

Willenhall had not won a game to date, but had pushed a number of top teams all the way and were confident that they would soon turn the corner.

Indeed it was Willenhall who drew first blood with a well struck penalty in the eighth minute to give them an early 3-0 lead.

Lichfield roared back and after a period of heavy pressure Sporcic popped up on the opposite wing to take advantage of a neat Massey chip through and score in the corner, Massey’s touch line conversion put Lichfield ahead at 7-3.

Massey then stretched the lead further with another penalty to make it 10-3.

Willenhall were far from beaten and they scored a fine try in the 38th minute, converted, to bring them level at 10-10.

Lichfield were sparked into life and a penalty under the opposition posts was chipped into the corner by the quick thinking work of Cotterhill, Sporcic making up a lot of ground to gather and ground the ball for an excellent score, Massey again converting to put Lichfield back in front at 17-10 with half time approaching.

Lichfield weren’t finished and on the stroke of half time Sam Baker, who was having an incisive game, scored a fine try, again converted by Massey to give Lichfield a healthy half time lead of 24-10.

The second half was an equally hard fought contest with the Willenhall pack making life difficult for Lichfield, skilfully slowing ball at the breakdown and making continuity a problem for the Lichfield team.

Lichfield were then struck with a double injury blow to Massey and Sporcic, the latter leaving the field and Massey forced to retire to full back after a nasty blow to the head. Butler came to scrum half and Ngoma and Cotterhill shared fly half duties for the remainder of the game.

Bryant replaced the hard working Sowden at prop and eventually Lichfield got their game back together and in the 69th minute scored again through Ngoma after some excellent work up the blindside, Massey narrowly missing the conversion to make it 29-10.

Squire and Hicks were having a great game at second row, Hicks prominent in the loose and Squire having his best performance to date against physical opposition. Squire was eventually replaced by the dynamic Upton, who brought another ball carrying option to the forwards.

The back row of Thompson, Burton and Smith worked well as a unit and are really beginning to forge a great understanding.

However it was the dogged Willenhall team who scored next in the 64th minute, a well taken try to narrow the lead to 29-15 and indicate that they were far from beaten.

In the last quarter Lichfield cut loose, Adams and Baker were running some great lines in the midfield and it was Cotterhill who took advantage, rounding off a length of the field move to score a fine try, converted by Massey to make it 36-15 to the hosts.

The front row of Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett and latterly Bryant took another step forward, more prominent in the loose in attack and defence and are becoming a formidable unit. Massey marshalled the troops well until his injury, which will hopefully not rule him out for the next game and Ngoma and Brown were prominent all day in broken play and they were particularly to the fore in the final play of the game, another length of the field affair, Baker grabbing his second again converted by Massey to make the final score 43-15.

Lichfield: Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett ©, Hicks, Squire, Burton, Smith, Thompson; W Cotterhill, L Massey, Sporcic, Baker, Adams, Brown, Ngoma. Subs: Bryant, Upton and Butler.

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