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Nuneaton Old Eds RUFC 12 Lichfield RUFC 27

Lichfield travelled to Nuneaton for another testing fixture against a team who were unbeaten at home and who had a very impressive defensive record.

Both teams showed a commitment to attack from the start and defences needed to be working hard and staying focussed.

Lichfield got on the score board first in the 12th minute, Steve Gabbitass rounding off a sweeping move after several phases of play, Luke Massey adding the icing to the cake with a touchline conversion and they  were 7-0 in front.

Nuneaton were not unbeaten at home for nothing and came back strongly and in the 17th minute, after several powerful drives, the no 8 crashed over and the deficit was reduced to 7-5.

Both sides were playing some entertaining rugby but it was Lichfield who started to stretch away towards the end of the first half, Luke Massey slotting a penalty in the 25th minute and then completing a full house with a well taken try, which he also converted in the 34th minute to give his side a healthy 17-5 lead.

In the 38th minute Nuneaton’s centre scored a neat try which he also converted and half time found them a score down at 17-12.

Tom Paulson was leading the back row unit well putting in some huge hits against a physical Nuneaton mid field. He was ably assisted by Burton and Thompson who covered a huge amount of ground in attack and defence.

The tight five of Bassett, Gabbitass, Taylor, Squires and Hicks edged the battle in the tight and in the line out but some inconsistent refereeing meant they did not get their just desserts. Squire and Hicks were prominent in the loose and the second half also saw the return of Paul Fennimore from injury and he made an immediate impact with some big hits around the fringes.

Will Cotterhill returned to number nine and was busy and dynamic all game. Luke and Greg Massey and Tom Adams in the midfield stood up well to some strong running from the opposition and took every opportunity to counter attack from all over the field.
Matt Brown, Josh Massey and Gareth Brear were constantly probing and also ensuring that they were working hard in defence and to support in broken play.

Lichfield missed a few opportunities to score and they had to remain vigilant and determined in defence as Nuneaton were posing a constant threat and were still well in the game.

Both sides suffered from some baffling refereeing decisions at crucial times and it was from one such decision that Brear benefitted from in the 78th minute when he collected a wayward kick and rounded two desperate defenders to score in the corner and make the game safe at 22-12.

Lichfield then scored one of their best tries of the season straight from the kick off when backs and forwards combined, running some great angles, offloading out of the tackle and culminating in Ollie Savage putting Tom Adams over in the corner with the deftest of passes for the bonus point try and a final score of 27-12.

Lichfield should be rightly proud of this performance against a well organised and talented Nuneaton team but a fractured cheek bone for winger Matt Brown, who played on to the end, took a bit of the gloss off the victory.

They now have an even tougher test this Saturday (November 20) against Old Halesonians, who are in third place and pushing strongly for promotion, but the Greens consistency, fluency and determination will make it a tough encounter for the team at the top and a good test of Lichfield’s credentials as the midpoint of the season approaches.

Lichfield: Taylor, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Hicks, Squire, Thompson, Burton, Paulson; W Cotterhill, L Massey, Brown, Adams, G Massey, Brear, J Massey. Subs: Savage, Fennimore and Butler.

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