Lichfield RUFC 65 Shrewsbury RUFC 0

Lichfield were playing their third game in seven days against a Shrewsbury side who historically had always proved tough, physical opponents.

Conditions weren’t good for open, running rugby but Lichfield began at pace, moving the ball early on to signal their intent and within five minutes Tom Adams had crashed over, Luke Massey converting and Lichfield were 7-0 in front.

The Lichfield forwards were dominating Shrewsbury at the set piece and the visitors’ plight wasn’t helped when they lost their influential number 8 to injury.

Their position worsened in the 16th minute when Chris Upton barrelled his way over for a try to make it 12-0 and in the 23d minute Luke Massey took the opportunity to convert a penalty to stretch Lichfield’s’ lead to 15-0.

At this stage it most certainly wasn’t one way traffic and Shrewsbury remained threatening, particularly though their driving mauls, but Lichfield’s’ defence looked resolute and organised.

Before half time Lichfield struck again with two tries through Luke Massey and Matt Brown and Lichfield were firmly in control at half time with a 25-0 lead.

Dave Butler and Luke Massey were controlling the game well at half back but 10 minutes into the second half and with the rest of the season in mind the Myrtle Greens replaced Luke Massey, suffering from a slight groin strain, with Will Cotterhill, making a welcome return from the rigours of his University rugby.

Greg Massey went to fly half and the reorganised back line took up where it left off, Massey, Adams and Cotterhill, tormenting the opposition midfield and Brear, Brown and George Cotterhill revelling in the space and possession they were receiving.

Ten minutes into the second half Tom Adams got his second try, Massey converting for a 32-0 lead and this was quickly followed by tries for Brear and Tom Addams third, both converted by Massey and Lichfield were close to a half century at 46-0.

Shrewsbury remained competitive throughout, their forwards always looking threatening with their tight driving play, but Lichfield were determined not allow their opponents a score and their focus and commitment in defence was awesome.

The front row of Gabbitass, Bassett and Sowden were playing with pace and power and linking well with the rest of the team, the second row of Thompson and Hicks were popping up all over the field to give Lichfield the quick ball and continuity they relish and the Back row of Upton, Smith and Burton were destructive and positive in equal measure, turning over ball and driving at their opponents to give Lichfield the go forward ball the backs love to exploit.

In the 68th minute the hard working Burton got a deserved score driving in near the posts and the Massey conversion meant Lichfield had scored a half century and were 53-0 in front.

A real team try followed in the 73d minute with Lichfield down to 14 men with the unfortunate Albutt in the bin. The ball was swung from left to right, going through countless phases before Brear looped Gabbitass who popped up the deftest of passes to Brear who raced in to the corner. A great touchline conversion from Massey saw Lichfield hit the 60 point mark for the first time this season.

This was further extended in the 78th minute, the powerful George Cotterhill crashing over to complete the scoring and make it 65-0 to Lichfield.

This was an excellent team performance and saw Lichfield go back to the top of the league, a point ahead of Old Salts and still with a game in hand.

Lichfield show no signs of succumbing to the pressure of so much competitive rugby and are revelling playing in this high tension atmosphere. They can take a step nearer their goal of promotion when they entertain Dixonians on Saturday (March 27) at 3pm.

Dixonians are a side who enjoy playing free flowing rugby and are sitting near the top of the league and so this should make for a very attractive competitive fixture. The support Lichfield are enjoying has been hugely influential to the players so another good crowd would be a big boost to the team.

Lichfield: Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Hicks, Thompson, Upton, Smith, Burton; Butler, L Massey, G Cotterhill, Adams, G Massey, Brown, Brear. Subs: Taylor, Albutt, W Cotterhill.

In Lichfield’s other game played last week they lost out to Longton in an entertaining Staffs Cup Semi-Final encounter. The biggest crowd of the season saw the Myrtle Greens go down 32-19.

Lichfield went 10-0 up after ten minutes before Longton came back into the game. The score was 20-16 to Longton at half time and then 25-19 after 75 minutes before the north Staffordshire side put the game out of reach with a final try in the 78th minute. This was Lichfield’s performance of the season against a side two leagues above.

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