Old Salts RUFC 19 Lichfield RUFC 20

Lichfield RUFC finally wrapped up the Midlands League Two title with victory at Old Salts.

With their hosts having not lost a league game at home it promised to be a tough ask for the Myrtle Greens and the visiting defence were given a stern test early on.

As the game wore on Lichfield’s forwards began to take control in the tight but struggled to achieve continuity due to repeated infringements at the tackle area. Indeed the referee’s interpretation confused the players and coaches all afternoon.

The deadlock was broken in the 38th minute when Old Salts profited from confusion in the Lichfield defence as they failed to deal with a kick ahead allowing the Salts winger a clear run in, the conversion giving the home side a 7-0 lead.

A minute later and the Lichfield forwards supplied the backs with quality ball. The midfield of Massey and Adams ran some great lines to hold the Salts defence Brear fed Brown who timed his pass to Luke Massey to perfection allowing him to speed in at the corner. The conversion just failed but Lichfield were right back in the game at 7-5.

A minute before half time and after apparently securing clean ball at a ruck Rich Burton found himself in the bin and the advantage lay again with Old Salts.

The second half saw Lichfield begin with more purpose, Bassett, Gabbitass and Sowden began to exert more pressure at the set piece, Hicks and Squire were prominent in the tight and loose and Smith, Upton and Burton were offering continuity in attack and were resolute in defence. Will Cotterhill and Luke Massey were controlling the game well and Lichfield were playing rugby in the right areas of the field. Greg Massey and Tom Adams had looked menacing all day and the threat of Brear, George Cotterhill and Brown had been a problem for Old Salts defence.

In the 52nd minute Lichfield backs put together another sparkling move to free up George Cotterhill to race in at the corner and the visitors had their noses in front, Massey’s conversion extending the lead to 12-7.

The Myrtle Greens seemed in control until the 66th minute when Old Salts struck twice in the space of three minutes to score two tries, on converted and they held a 19-12 lead with less than 15 minutes to play.

Lichfield came storming back and a deliberate knock down by an Old Salts defender resulted in him stopping a certain try but earned him a yellow card. Lichfield took the points and were now a score behind at 19-15. There were three minutes left to play and Lichfield had Old Salts on the rack.

After the visitors took a scrum against the head Brown received the ball wide out on the right and outpaced a desperate Old Salts defence crashing through the last tackle to give Lichfield a 20-19 win.

Lichfield came right back from the kick off and desperate Salts defence saw them concede another penalty and after confirming it was the last play of the game they put the ball into touch to secure victory and the league title.

Another huge contingent of Lichfield supporters had travelled to offer their assistance and there was a sense of relief and elation with the final whistle.

Salts still have the opportunity of promotion through the play offs and so our best wishes go to them as they try to secure a place in Midlands 1. Lichfield came through another severe test of their credentials and proved to be equal to the task against the toughest of opponents.

They now take on Ashbourne at home on Saturday (April 24) at 3pm. Hopefully a big crowd will be present to congratulate the Divisional League Champions and Cup holders and join in the celebrations for what has been a hugely successful season.

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

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