Lichfield RUFC roar to see off Peterborough Lions

Lichfield RUFC got the better of newcomers Peterborough Lions after securing a 24-20 win at Cooke Fields.

The visitors showed their intent from the kick-off as they regathered the ball and were soon playing through their phases attempting to send their large back row over the gain line.

But Lichfield’s defence was resolute and their line speed put pressure on the Lions. Their overzealous nature was penalised within a few minutes, and the visitors opted for the posts. The kicker pulled it wide, and from that point the Greens exerted their authority on the game.

Quick ball and slick hands saw play move across the pitch, and it was the Lions who were starting to be penalised at the breakdown.

A quick tap penalty saw Greg Massey accelerate onto the ball, and neat hands down the right flank saw Charlie Milner carry the ball up to the half way. The ball was spun across to the other side within three passes and opposite wing Harvey Wootton made good in roads into the Lions defence. The speed of the ruck caused havoc in as the Peterborough defence couldn’t set and it was Maxwell-Keys who made the decisive break to feed Charlie Milner back on the inside to score on six minutes. Luke Massey converted.

Lichfield where matching Peterborough’s physicality and they started to grow in confidence as they played. Another quick tap penalty saw returning Will Cotterhill dance through the defence before a long miss pass from Luke Massey found space for Maxwell-Keys and Greg Massey to gallop into. It was Milner on hand again to score his side’s second on 12 minutes and Massey converted to take the score to 14-0.

The Lions must have they thought they were in for a rout, but they slowly started to come back as the Greens relaxed. Both teams had their chances, but handling errors and excellent defensive work forced errors.

It was Lichfield who had the best of these opportunities, as they drove hard into the Lions 22. The visiting 12 was sinned binned for a breakdown infringement 5m from the line and the hosts started to turn the screw.

One chance went begging from the forwards as they were penalised from the line out, then the backs blew a certain try when it looked harder to miss.

It was Peterborough who finished the half the stronger as Kev Birt was sin binned for a ruck infringement and the visiting 12 found his range to make the half time score 14-3.

Lichfield returned a little off the pace after half time allowing, the visitors to make inroads from the kick off. Another penalty was missed on 43 minutes and with the Greens returning to a full contingent, the crowd were hopeful of more free flowing rugby.

But it never quite materialised as the home side began to concede too many penalties allowing Peterborough time in their half. The Lions played through their phases and seemed to be going nowhere until a quick tap penalty caught Lichfield napping and they darted through to score under the posts. With the conversion added, the scoreboard looked a lot closer than the game suggested.

The hosts were stuck in a rut as the penalty count against them rose and the Lions’ 12 found himself with another opportunity to chip away at the board.

The score read 14-13 going into the last quarter, but Lichfield pushed up another gear and corrected their discipline, allowing them to play more and pressurise Peterborough into mistakes.

It was from one these that Will Cotterhill put a deft kick into the bottom corner. The ball was touched in flight and Rich Burton chased it down only to charge down the kick and gather for a converted try.

This seemed to be the lift Lichfield needed as they started to pin Peterborough further and further back toward their try line. Line out drives and barreling runs eventually resulted in a penalty in front of the posts which Luke Massey slotted to make the game 24-13 with seven minutes to play.

The visitors continued to press and the Greens were guilty of infringing too many times in their attempts to regather the ball. The Lions were kicking to the corner time and time again but they were rewarded with nothing.

Peterborough did eventually cross as more penalties allowed them to play in the Lichfield five. A step inside saw their number 10 slide over for his second, and this was duly converted to make the scores 24-20 with a minute left.

The visitors pressed hard from the kick off, but they were making small metres and never looked likely to get through or round the resolute Lichfield defence. A forward pass bought a close to nail biting finish.

This week Lichfield will travel to Sandbach who started with a big win in week one, but had their last game abandoned after 30 minutes due to a referee injury. They have been tipped to challenge for the top of the league and will provide the Greens with another stern test.

Lichfield: Birt, Clarke, Bassett, Thompson, Cowley, Burton (capt), Milner, Southern; Cotterhill, L Massey, Wootton, Maxwell-Keys, Milner, Fielding, G Massey. Subs: Gabbitass, Squire and Wedgwood.