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Lichfield RUFC picked up the first part of what they hope will be a league and cup double as they beat Melton Mowrbay RUFC 32-20 in the Midlands Intermediate Cup.
The Myrtle Greens ran out at Cooke Fields in front one of the biggest crowds seen for many years, to play one of their most important fixtures for a number of seasons.
Their cup final opponents Melton had brought three coach loads of supporters and the afternoon had a festival feeling in the air.
The game started at pace, both sides keen to keep the ball in play and the first 10 mins were very even until Luke Massey broke the deadlock in the 12th minute with a sweetly struck penalty to give the home side a 3-0 lead.
Melton responded in style and their off loading game was causing the Lichfield defence some anxiety. In the 16th and 19th minute they scored two fine tries, the first converted to give them a 12-3 lead.
Lichfield were far from beaten and hit back with a real resolve. The tight 5 of Bassett, Gabbitass, Sowden, Squire and Hicks were pressurising their bigger opponents and towards the end of the first half they began to tire.
Lichfield piled on the pressure and in the 36th minute after a number of phases Will Cotterhill crashed over, Luke Massey converted and Lichfield were right back in the game at 12-10 and only two points in arrears.
The second half started brightly for the visitors, Nick Smith, who had worked tirelessly all afternoon, found himself in the bin for a late tackle and from the resultant penalty Melton found themselves further in front at 15-10.
The home crowd got behind Lichfield and despite being down to 14 men they began to dominate their opponents. The back row of Thompson and Burton linked well with the backs and went on some rampaging runs, Will Cotterhill and Luke Massey distributed the ball intelligently and the midfield of Massey and Adams were wreaking havoc in the Melton defence. Brear, Baker and George Cotterhill linked and counter attacked at every opportunity and Lichfield began to join their game together.
In the 43rd minute Lichfield got the try they deserved, Captain Dave Bassett powering over wide out and Lichfield were back on level terms 15-15.
Five minutes later and another of the front row union, Steve Gabbitass, crossed for a try after some neat hands and Lichfield were in front at 20-15.
The crowd urged Lichfield on and they were rewarded in the 54th minute with a neat try for George Cotterhill and in the space of 10 minutes Lichfield had turned the game around and a 15-10 deficit became a 25-15 lead.
Nick Smith returned to put Lichfield back to full strength and the home side continued to make chances but just failed to convert them into points.
In the 58th minute Lichfield sealed the game, another passage of great interplay between forwards and backs saw Greg Massey get on the end of a great move to score, brother Luke converting and Lichfield were 3 scores clear with 20 minutes to play at 32-15.
Dan Taylor, Dave Butler and Chris Upton came on to add impetus and Lichfield controlled the final 20 with some intelligent territorial rugby.
Melton kept fighting and in the final minute finally and deservedly broke the impressive Lichfield defensive line to score a try and make the final result 32-20 in favour Lichfield, the new Midlands Intermediate Cup Winners.
The result is all the more impressive when you consider that Melton hold the best defensive record in the Midlands and have not been beaten by more than one score all season.
The players were grateful for the fantastic support and reception they got on the day and thoroughly enjoyed their moment of glory. Their attitude was epitomised by Sam Baker, injured in the first minute with a serious mouth injury, but returning to the field to play an integral role in a magnificent victory. Instead of joining the post match celebrations Sam then had to rush off to hospital for treatment and Lichfield anxiously await the outcome and hope he will be available to play out the rest of the season.
Lichfield’s quest for honours continues however and they travel to Wolverhampton this week hoping to stay on track for a league and cup double knowing that any trip to Wolverhampton will be a tough affair and any slip up could hand the initiative to second placed Old Salts.
Lichfield: Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Hicks, Squire, Burton, Smith, Thompson; W Cotterhill, L Massey, Baker, Adams, G Massey, G Cotterhill, Brear. Subs: Taylor, Upton, Albutt and Butler.