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Walsall RUFC 27 Lichfield RUFC 28

Lichfield RUFC finally managed to get one over on their old rivals Walsall RUFC for the first time in 20 years.

The Myrtle Greens made a promising start and certainly looked up for the challenge. The forwards immediately made their presence felt in the tight and in the fifth minute Jack Sporcic rounded the cover defence to score an excellent try in the corner. Luke Massey sent the conversion sailing over from wide out and Lichfield were 7-0 in front.

The visitors expected Walsall to respond and they weren’t disappointed. After some stout defence Rich Burton found himself in the bin in the 14th minute. The hosts made the extra man tell and scored a try after a series of forward drives. Walsall’s excellent fly half added the extras and they were on level terms. Unfortunately Dave Butler then fell foul of the referee’s wrath and Lichfield were down to 13 men.

The home side made their numerical advantage tell despite some brave defence and Walsall’s number eight Rod Dickson scored a fine try, Wood adding the extras and the home side were in front at 14-7.

Lichfield’s tight five of Bassett, Gabbitass, Taylor, Finnemore and Squire were giving their opponents a torrid time and from a resultant penalty Luke Massey brought Lichfield right back into the game at 14-10.

Massey was controlling the game well giving his forwards a target and taking territory when it was on offer. Brother Greg, making a welcome return after injury looked threatening throughout and Neil Antcliffe, his partner in the midfield brought control to the game, constantly probing and putting in some deft attacking kicks.

Massey was on target again just before half-time with another well-struck penalty and Lichfield found themselves right back in the mix at 14-13 as the whistle blew.

From the kick off Walsall made the Myrtle Greens pay for an indiscretion and they stretched the lead to 17-13.

This galvanised Lichfield into action and after a series of five metre scrums and playing advantage for a penalty infringement, Joe Thompson powered over and the visitors were in front at 18-17. This was a just reward for the back row of Paulson, Burton and Thompson who were again prominent throughout, while Dave Butler was inspired against his former club and was determined to do everything to gain a result.

The back three of Brown, Brear and Sporcic were incisive and Brear scored a fine try from inside his own half in the 51st minute, ghosting into space and scorching over the try line. Massey, on fire with the boot, added the conversion and Lichfield were in front and on top at 25 – 17.

Walsall were not about to let their proud record against Lichfield go without a fight and scored two tries in three minutes in the 60th and 63d minute and found themselves 27-25 up with 17 minutes to play.

This was a real test of character for the Myrtle Greens and their pressure paid dividends in the 67th minute when the hosts killed the ball during a promising Lichfield attack. Luke Massey coolly slotted the resultant penalty and Lichfield found themselves 28-27 in font with 13 minutes to play.

Walsall came roaring back throwing caution to the wind to find the winning score. Lichfield showed a combination of determination and discipline to counter every Walsall attack and in the 72nd minute the home team’s frustration became apparent when they lost a player to the bin for foul play.

The referee blew the whistle after Lichfield had repelled another Walsall attack and gave them a hard-earned 28-27 victory.

The Lichfield supporters gave the Greens a sterling reception as this was Lichfield’s first win over Walsall for more than 20 years and the first ever league win.

Lichfield: Taylor, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Finnemore, Squire, Burton, Paulson, Thompson; Butler, L Massey, Sporcic, Antcliffe, G Massey, Brown and Brear. Subs: Savage, Perrins and Rose.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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