Lichfield RUFC earn victory on the road at Scunthorpe

Lichfield RUFC collected a hard-fought victory in their first league encounter on the road this season.

The trip to a physical Scunthorpe outfit was always going to be a tough test, but the Greens battled to bring back the victory.

Playing into the blustery wind and against the slope, Lichfield opened brightly maintaining possession over several phases of play and meeting the home side’s physicality head on. Aware of the home team’s formidable kicker, the visiting back row of Burton, Milner and Able competed well at the breakdown, and conceded little ground while keeping their discipline.

The visitors bagged their first try on eight minutes with a finely executed move at pace straight from the training ground, which found Greg Massey scything through the middle of the park and crashing into the bottom of the post to score, with a successful conversion by Luke Massey to follow.

Will Cotterhill opened his account some nine minutes later where an optimistic kick into the opposition half bounced fortuitously into his hands. The bounce and then the Lichfield man’s fleet of foot left the scrambling defence unable to cope. The conversion was again successful from the boot of Massey.

The home side showed their grit and the power of their set piece by establishing themselves in the visiting 22 for a 15 minute period. Despite some fearsome tackling by the likes of Thompson and Poole, the hosts’ tenacity paid off as they opened their scoring with a successful kick at goal.

Immediately from the restart, the home pack camped in Lichfield’s 22, sensing blood with the one man advantage following a controversial yellow card for Lichfield’s loose head Lassis on the half hour. Again, huge tackles thwarted their efforts, a stand out moment being Cotterhill’s try saver on the Scunthorpe left wing.

It was with some disappointment that after absorbing sustained pressure, the home 12 breached the line on 39 minutes, leaving the interval score at 14-8 to the Greens.

From the restart Lichfield immediately pushed position into the Scunthorpe half, a finely executed move allowing Rowlands to power across the line, though the referee did not agree and disallowed the try.

Not to be subdued, the pressure was rewarded by a yellow card to the Scunthorpe full back for an early tackle. Within two minutes, second row Matt Cowley powered over the line, though the conversion fell wide.

Scunthorpe’s pack again drove the home team into the Lichfield 22 and were rewarded with a penalty try.

The restart saw a reinvigorated Scunthorpe charge through a rare defensive lapse in the visiting line to race over under the posts, but the missed conversion was to prove costly.

With the clock counting down, the home side came extremely close to closing out the game with a fine catch and drive from the lineout, the openside just fumbling the ball over the line.

Lichfield’s team – with an average age of 23 – showed the optimism of youth, immediately launching an attack from their own try line with just three minutes left on the clock. Driving hard over phases into the Scunthorpe half, near line breaks were thwarted bravely by the home team over and over. Some indiscipline by the hosts’ loosehead was rewarded by a penalty. Greg Massey saw the wind drop as he kicked, leaving his effort falling short and cleared away by the home side.

Most thought that would be the last action, but play continued and Lichfield took a quick lineout which was miscued, but fortunately saw the ball land with Kevin Birt. The whole team sprang to life sending the ball wide to the left touchline, then immediately to the right where Maxwell Keys carved a two on one with Evans, whose perfectly timed floating pass was caught by Greg Massey to score in the corner, putting Lichfield into a 24-20 lead with the last play of the game.

The Greens are at home on Saturday (September 19) when they face Sutton Coldfield at Cooke Fields.

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