Rugby ball. Pic: Neil Winton

Lichfield RUFC made a much-anticipated return to league rugby with a convincing victory over Stratford at Cooke Fields.

The home side started the game sluggishly with only last ditch defending denying the Stratford number eight an early score.

Stirred into action, it was Lichfield who struck first, the returning Sam Baker profiting from a Greg Massey cut out pass to score out wide. The try on ten minutes proved the catalyst for a sizzling 25 minute spell that ultimately decided the game.

Stratford could not cope as the hosts drastically upped the tempo. The abrasive Will Cotterhill was a constant threat at nine, ably supported by hard hitting eight Mike Goodwin who impressed throughout on his debut. Perrins and Turner also turned in strong performances within a forward pack that had been beset by injuries and disruption in the build up.

Baker’s try was swiftly followed by five more before the break. Brad Rowlands (2), Josh Massey and Tom Adams all crossed, while Greg Massey capped a lively display with a fine solo effort. Brother Josh was successful with four first half conversions.

The second half, perhaps unsurprisingly, failed to hit the heights of the first. Lichfield appeared content with their day’s work, and never fully returned to their early intensity. But there were to be further plus points for coach Sporcic. Cotterhill coasted in for a 51st minute try, before debutant Rowlands was at it again. The young winger showed searing pace and finishing instinct to complete a deserved hat-trick.

The Lichfield scrum was imposing throughout, giving a strong foundation from which the backs could strike. Team structure was much improved and quick press in defence was rewarded with a final interception try from Adams. The inside centre sealing his timely return from holiday with a second try. Josh Massey added a further two conversions, for a total personal haul of 17 points.

Irritatingly, it was Stratford who had the final word. On the plus side, it had taken them 73 minutes to register any points at all. An encouraging start for the greens, but an 80 minute performance will certainly be needed at Sutton next weekend.

Lichfield: Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Turner, Squire, Perrins, Milner, Goodwin; W Cotterhill, J Massey, Rowlands, Adams, G Massey, Baker, Brear. Subs: Taylor, Thompson, G Cotterhill.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.