Lichfield RUFC narrowly missed out on toppling league leaders Worcester Wanderers at Cooke Fields.
The Greens went down 19-17 after a controversial period of added time.
The hosts started brightly, having a zip and intensity about them in all they did. They were made to weather an onslaught from Worcester, but a well organised physical defence saw wave after wave attack repelled and turnovers conceded.
Lichfield were creating their own chances, and knock-ons were keeping them from crossing the line. Instead, it was a penalty at the breakdown that saw the home side make the first dent in the scoreboard, Greg Massey assuming kicking duties and striking a 35m penalty between the posts with 17 minutes played.
Much of the first half was played in the middle of the park, Lichfield’s defence knocking Worcester back, and their attack penetrating through the middle and out wide.
Just before half time, a neat kick through from Luke Massey, saw a wave of Greens chasers pressure the visiting back line, who fumbled the ball over the line for Ollie Winter to score under the posts. The try was converted, and Lichfield led 10-0 at the interval.
The hosts started the second half brightly with their defence matching one of the league’s most potent attacks.
But Worcester started to string some phases together and showed why they’re top of the league. Lichfield were being forced to defend for long periods before the ball was eventually turned over and the visitors stretched the play until a gap finally appeared out wide. The scrambling defenders were unable to stop the Worcester player scoring in the corner.
A 20 minute spell saw both sides cancel each other out with the score at 10-5 to Lichfield. It was going to take a moment of brilliance to score and that was exactly what the home crowd got.
Lichfield’s defendce turned over the ball in their 22 and three long passes saw the ball moved to Greg Massey on the wing. He rounded two and was racing down the touchline to the halfway. Worcester defenders were scrambling back and with the full back to beat, Massey chipped the ball with his wrong foot, accelerated away, and beat the covering man to gather and score under the posts. Converting his own try, Massey made it 17-5 with only five minutes to play.
The visitors needed two converted scores to win – a feat they managed to achieve.
A free kick for feeding at the scrum was given against Lichfield and Worcester ran, attacking hard. They moved the ball left and right, and back again, looking for the opening that wasn’t there. For minutes this ensued, until the ball was moved wide on the left, the tackle missed and the second row galloped under the posts on the 79th minute.
It seemed there couldn’t be time for another score, especially when a knock-on appeared to have earned Lichfield the win. But still the game played on and eventually the Worcester scrum half picked up the ball and raced towards the line. Wave after wave of attack saw the hosts defending with all the energy they had left, until – five minutes after full time – the Worcester winger broke a tackle and scored.
With a difficult kick, the visitors slotted it between the posts for the game to finish 17-19.
Lichfield: McDonough, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Thompson, Squire, Taplin, Milner, Turner; Clark, L Massey, J Massey, Winter, Adams, D Rowlands, G Massey. Subs: Albutt, Doubleday and Maxwell-Keys.