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Tweaks to the starting line-up failed to unsettle Lichfield RUFC as they returned with a victory from newly-promoted Dunlop.
Joe Thompson, Neil Antcliffe and Paul Maxwell-Keys came into the team, while Mike Goodwin was fit enough to join Adam Clarke and Jim Clark on the bench.
Playing with a strong breeze at their backs, the visitors started the brighter. Chris Upton and Richard Burton ran hard at the line, while Tom Paulson was controlling things well from number eight.
Dunlop’s pitch is certainly not the biggest and the away side found it difficult to utilise their strength out wide. On the few occasions they were able to create space for the backs, Rowlands in particular was looking threatening. Josh Massey also ran a great line to get in behind the defence, but failed to find a supporting player.
The first half passed without much incident. Josh Massey was on target with two well struck penalties though, which gave Lichfield a 6-3 half time lead.
As the wind continued to swirl, the visitors found themselves pinned in their own 22 for large portions of the second half.
Just three minutes after the restart Lichfield fell behind for the first time, courtesy of Dunlop outside centre Richard Craner.
Not to be denied, the greens bounced back in style just five minutes later. Paul Maxwell-Keys retrieved a rare wayward kick and countered impressively, slipping a few tackles before feeding Upton who somehow found his way to the line. The conversion was successful and Lichfield were back in front at 10-13.
The away side were competing hard but just couldn’t sustain any quality possession. On 62 minutes, a dubious penalty decision gave home fly half McCory the chance to level the scores and he duly converted.
This was a massive test for a forward pack that had fallen some way short the week before. This time, however, the greens stood firm in the face of real adversity. The set piece, in both attack and defence, was much improved, despite the testing conditions.
As the clock ran down, only brilliant try line defence kept their opponents at bay, before a huge Tom Adams tackle in midfield forced the crucial 78th minute turnover. Thompson was on hand to pick up the loose ball and feed Greg Massey who burst out of the 22. He was able to feed younger brother Josh down the short side, and the full back combined with Adams to put Maxwell-Keys clear up the left touchline. On his full first XV debut, the 18-year-old just had the legs to beat the desperate home defence and score under the posts.
The greens were able to maintain their focus and close out a hard fought 20-13 victory. Sixth placed Lichfield have a rest week next Saturday, but return to action the following weekend (November 12) against basement boys Kenilworth.
Lichfield: Sowden, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Thompson, Upton, Burton, Milner, Paulson; Smith, Antcliffe, Rowlands, Adams, G Massey, Maxwell-Keys, J Massey. Subs: A Clarke, Goodwin and J Clark.
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