Ashbourne RUFC 3 Lichfield RUFC 41

A great team performance saw Lichfield go top of the table on points difference, but it was marred by a serious injury to Neil Antcliffe.

Antcliffe had to remain in hospital in Derby until Monday morning for an operation to pin a bone in his forearm.

The game started brightly with Lichfield hitting a positive note from the start, making life difficult for their opponents with great support lines and fine offloading out of contact.

In the third minute Sam Baker sold the defence a great dummy and galloped in under the posts, Luke Massey converting, and Lichfield were in front at 7-0.

Ashbourne responded in a positive fashion and came back at Lichfield strongly with some enterprising rugby which saw them attack from all areas of the pitch.

Lichfield’s defence stood firm and in the 23d minute they got another breakthrough when Ngoma started and finished off a great move to stretch Lichfield further in front at 12-0.

The visiting forwards were working hard in defence and attack and it was from such pressure that Dan Albutt, who had a tremendous game in his unfamiliar role of hooker, deservedly got the try after some great support play, Massey narrowly missing the conversion and Lichfield 17-0 in front with 36 minutes played.

Just before half time Ashbourne got a penalty they decided to kick and reduced the arrears to 17-3 at half time.

The injury to Antcliffe caused a problem for the Lichfield back line. Luke Massey moved to fly half and was joined on the field by brother Josh for his league debut at full back.

Antcliffe had been controlling the game well and was mixing the game up with good distribution and some astute kicking so it took Lichfield a while to settle back into a pattern.

The forwards continued to pressurise their opponents and it was from such pressure on the opposition line that the ever present Nick Smith got a deserved try to put Lichfield almost clear at 24-3 following a Massey conversion four minutes into the second half.

Ashbourne were far from finished and continued to test the Lichfield defence at every opportunity but Lichfield proved equal to the challenge showing great discipline and patience to frustrate every attack.

Josh Massey, who had had a fine debut under testing conditions, scored his first league try after some great support play, brother Luke rounding it off with a magnificent touchline conversion to make the score a family affair and put Lichfield 31-3 in front.

Matt Brown then rounded off another sweeping move to put Lichfield out of sight at 36-3.

Lichfield came close on a number of occasions through the rampaging Thompson and pacy Brear. Rich Burton, Hicks and Squire offered sterling service all day and Dan Taylor continues to improve with some more great carries and support.

Ngoma and Baker were wreaking havoc and Luke Massey was constantly a threat. Captain Bassett varied the game well and led by example and Jim Clark kept the momentum going all game. It was Clark that set up Lichfield’s final score in the 60th minute after a great sniping run up the blind side and a deft pass to Brown for his second try to make it 41-3 to Lichfield.

Perrins replaced Squire and Harrison replaced Nick Smith and both replacements put in fine performances. Lichfield were probably guilty of relaxing in the last twenty minutes but that doesn’t take the gloss off what was a great win away from home.

Team: Taylor, Albutt, Bassett (c), Hicks, Squire, Burton, Smith, Thompson; Clark, Antcliffe, Brear, Baker, Ngoma, Brown, L Massey. Subs: Harrison, Perrins and J Massey.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.