Lichfield RUFC 67 Ashbourne RUFC 45

Lichfield warmed up for their National Cup semi-final with a high-scoring win against Ashbourne.

The Myrtle Greens took the field in front of a large crowd who were present to welcome the Midlands 2 league champions.

Lichfield wanted to play a free flowing game but they would have to earn the right against an Ashbourne team who needed to win to stay up and who had been improving in recent weeks with some good victories over their relegation threatened competition.

The hosts started positively and Gareth Brear opened the scoring in the 10th minute, Luke Massey converting and Lichfield had their noses in front at 7-0.

Ashbourne showed their intent scoring a fine try in the 20th minute to make it 7-5 but their hosts responded positively, cutting loose before half time with tries from Luke Massey, Matt Brown and Tom Adams, two were converted by Massey to give the Myrtle Greens a healthy 26-5 lead at the interval.

Ashbourne were joining in the festival feel and were playing some very enterprising rugby and they got their just desserts in the 50th minute with a try and conversion to narrow the deficit to 26-12.

Lichfield surged forward again and tries from Callum Turner, George Cotterhill and Mark Rose, all converted by Luke Massey to give his side a healthy 47-12 lead with 20 minutes remaining.

Ashbourne scored another converted try in 62nd minute to bring them a little closer at 47-19.

The final 18 minutes saw a further seven tries, four to the opposition and three to Lichfield through Gareth Brear, Mark Rose and a popular try to the returning Neil Antcliffe, who managed to make it through without injury. Luke Massey added a conversion and penalty and the spectators had been treated to a feast of attacking rugby from both teams and a final scoreline of 67-45.

In truth Lichfield played with a sense of freedom, forcing passes and taking risks with impunity and while some of the play was sparkling they are well aware that they will need to tighten up for next weeks semi final against free scoring Northern RFC, who have the added advantage of a home venue.

The odds are stacked against Lichfield who also have the lengthy journey to Newcastle to endure but the Myrtle Greens have become battle hardened as the season has wore on and will prove to be worthy opponents for a Northern side who have also completed a league and cup double.

But with a Twickenham final awaiting the winners on May 15, Lichfield will need no incentive to turn out a strong performance.

Saturday (April 24) was the last game for all the other club sides and it is great to report that the 2nd XV, vets and colts all won their respective leagues to highlight the strength in depth that Lichfield now possess.

Lichfield: Taylor, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Hicks, Squire, Perrins, Burton, Thompson; Butler, L Massey, Brown, Antcliffe, Adams, G Cotterhill, Brear. Subs: Sowden, Turner and Rose.

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