Lichfield secured victory in the quarter-finals of the Staffordshire Senior Cup after an entertaining contest with local rivals Burton.
Both teams had very different line-ups to those that faced off in the league and the 33-30 scoreline was certainly one for the neutral.
Hosts Lichfield started with an intensity and accuracy that had been missing in previous weeks. Their first scrum saw a midfield line break, and with numerous support runners to pick out, it was Greg Massey who went over for the first try within three minutes. The try was converted.
From the restart, the home side powered their way back up the pitch through some excellent forward interplay. Quick ball was recycled on the Burton 22, and a slick move saw Greg Massey get on the outside of the defender and canter over for his second converted try.
The Greens looked untouchable with less than ten minutes played, and from the kick off they moved the ball into space and played with a speed that Burton couldn’t contain. When the visitors next touched the ball, it was from a lineout in their own half. This was stolen, and two pieces of excellent phase play, saw Greg Massey ghost round forwards to score his third try of the game with only 13 minutes gone. The conversion was missed, and with the score reading 19-0, the visiting support must of thought they were in for a drubbing.
This was never the case, and credit to Burton they clawed their way back into the game. They stuck to their game plan and some poor defence and indiscipline allowed them to slowly notch up a score, firstly through the boot of Banton, and through two loose tries coming from centre Sam Smith and prop Nathan Taylor.
What had started so well for Lichfield looked an eternity away as they went into half time 19-20 down.
When the two teams emerged, it was Lichfield again who started the brightest, piecing together some excellent phase play, and penetrating through the heart of the Burton defence. This time Tom Adams breaking through tackles to score under the posts and restore his side’s lead to 26-20.
The visitors were still full of belief and proceeded to dominate play with driving mauls and short carries. A string of penalties allowed them to edge closer to the try line and they took their time before Sam Smith once again showed his strength to muscle his way over in the corner.
Burton were in the ascendency and Lichfield were making too many errors. The visiting side again mauled their way close to the line and a resulting lineout saw their winger spot a gap and snatch the ball away from his pack to dart over the line and put his side back in front 30-26.
With the momentum of the game well balanced, the hosts started to hang onto the ball better and moved the tiring Burton pack around the pitch. An excellent play down the blindside, saw forwards and backs link up for Dan Rowlands was set free to race in and score the deciding try. This was converted to give Lichfield the narrowest of leads, 33-30.
A spectacle of a game where both teams wanted to play rugby before getting back into the pressure of league rugby this weekend.
Lichfield: McDonough, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Thompson, Squire, Taplin, Milner, Turner; Winter, L Massey, J Massey, Maxwell-Keys, Adams, D Rowlands, G Massey. Subs: Machin, Albutt and Clark.