Wolverhampton RUFC 3 Lichfield RUFC 41

Lichfield RUFC moved within one victory of the league title with a 41-3 win at Wolverhampton RUFC.

It was a tough fixture for a Myrtle Greens side still drained from a tough battle in the Midlands Intermediate Cup final.

Lichfield welcomed back Neil Antcliffe, replacing an ill Tom Adams and with a few players carrying the scars of battle from the previous week Lichfield knew that this must win game could not be taken lightly.

Th visitors controlled the tempo of the game in the first quarter and Wolverhampton did their utmost to upset that rhythm at every opportunity with quick tap penalties and determined foraging at the breakdown.

Lichfield broke the deadlock in the 17th minute, Matt Brown rounding off a sweet move that had gone through several phases and with Luke Massey adding the conversion to put his side 7-0 in front.

Disaster then struck with Neil Antcliffe suffering a nasty concussion after a freak collision. Antcliffe had been playing well and the midfield looked threatening and tight but with the injury came a major reshuffle in the backs, the experienced Dave Butler coming into scrum half and Will Cotterhill moving out whilst the backs and coaches decided on the best permutation.

Fortunately Lichfield are blessed with a talented and versatile group of players so whilst not reaching the slick standards of previous weeks they remained a potent threat for the rest of the game.

In the 26th minute Luke Massey kept the scoreboard ticking over with a well struck penalty to extend the lead to 10-0.

Wolverhampton were having their share of the ball and territory and looked threatening throughout the first half but the visiting defence held firm and their hosts were unable to find a way through.

In the last ten minutes of the half Lichfield struck twice, Brear cutting a fine line off Greg Massey to surge over and then Rich Burton finishing off a powerful pushover try for the forwards by controlling the ball into the in goal area to score, Massey converting and Lichfield were in control at 24-0.

The second half saw much the same pattern as the first, Wolverhampton continuing to play with determination but not quite finding the final pass to finish off their work and Lichfield content to play territory and wait for openings.

In the 51st minute the home side deservedly got on the score sheet with a well taken penalty to put the score at 24-3.

Sowden replaced Gabbitass and Axton replaced Hicks, as Lichfield welcomed fresh legs on what was a very hot and humid day. And the changes paid off as the Myrtle Greens finished off the game in style with three tries in the final 20 minutes, two for Greg Massey and Matt Brown completing his brace. Will Cotterhill slotted the final conversion and Lichfield ran out winners 41-3.

Wolverhampton felt that they had put up probably their most determined effort of the season so far and were tough opponents in what was a very physical encounter.

Lichfield now travels to second in the league Old Salts on Saturday (April 17). Salts still have a chance to win the league if they beat Lichfield in their final game and Lichfield lose to Ashbourne the following week, so the Myrtle Greens will expect a tough encounter.

While Lichfield have had no opportunity to rest players due to their cup exploits Salts have had the luxury of a number of weeks of league inactivity to charge their batteries.

Lichfield will want to finish the season on a high and protect their hard earned record of only one defeat in the league and one in the Staffs Cup Semi Final against Longton, two leagues higher in National League Three and know that victory will give them the league title to go with their Midlands Cup.

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

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