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Winning start continues after Lichfield RUFC beat Walsall in local derby

Lichfield RUFC continued their winning start to the season with a 23-16 triumph at local rivals Walsall.

Things didn’t start too well for the city side though as Matty Wood kicked a long range penalty for the hosts in the second minute.

Lichfield’s shaky start was compounded when they lost second row Derrick Squire to a dislocated finger after just five minutes.

The visitors were unable to get any quality ball with the Walsall forwards exerting good pressure on the pack, set piece and the breakdown. During this phase Lichfield’s discipline was poor and several penalties allowed Walsall to gain good ground.

Lichfield finally woke up after 17 minutes and after a couple of quick phases Greg Massey spotted a gap in the defence and cruised in. Unfortunately, during this passage of place Lichfield lost their second player for the afternoon with scrum half Callum Aspley having to be helped from the field with a knee injury.

The visiting side then enjoyed a better spell of play and, having got to the Walsall five metre line, a solid scrum led to a well-worked backs move which was too much for the Walsall defence and Josh Massey exploited the overlap to go over in the left hand corner. He then added the extras with a fine touchline conversation.

This positive period was followed up by a poor 15 minutes leading into half time. First they lost Dave Abel to the sin bin for collapsing a maul, resulting in Wood kicking an easy penalty. Then a poor restart gave the home side the opportunity to clear to just outside the Lichfield 22. From this lineout the visitors gave away a free-kick and then a penalty after the hosts had opted for a scrum. The ball was kicked this into the corner and Walsall went over from 10 metres out with a catch and drive.

Lichfield went into half-time knowing that with the breeze at their back they needed to lift their performance if they were to come away with the win, however, having played their poorest 40 minutes for some time they still held a 12-11 lead at the break.

The second half didn’t quite start as the visiting side had planned, though, with the evergreen Walsall number eight Rod Dickson flopping over from close range.

The home side taking the lead did finally stir Lichfield and they dominated the final 35 minutes of the game despite losing Ollie Winter to the sin bin.

Greg Massey scored another fine individual try following a poor Walsall kick after a restart from Dickson’s try. Brother Josh then converted penalties on 55 and 70 minutes.

The visitors did have three clear try scoring chances during the final 20 minutes but poor execution meant that all three opportunities were missed.

Lichfield entertain Barker Butts next weekend and the players and coaching staff know that performance must be raised if their unbeaten start to the league season is to continue.

Lichfield: Machin, Gabbitass, Bassett (c), Upton, Squire, Taplin, Abel, Burton; Aspley, L Massey, J Massey, Winter, D Rowlands, Maxwell-Keys, G Massey. Subs: McDonough, Adams and B Rowlands.

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