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Lichfield RUFC grind out a gutsy victory against Walsall

A competitive encounter saw Lichfield RUFC run out narrow winners as they welcomed Walsall to Cooke Fields.

The visitors, struggling with injuries, were out-muscled and forced into penalties during the early exchanges as the hosts raced into a 6-0 lead, with the direct running lines of the forwards getting them over the gain line.

But for every good thing Lichfield did, they did two things poorly. Knock ons and passes going to ground saw Walsall get a lineout on the home five metre line. The hosts’ pack won the lineout, but didn’t control the ball on the ground, as it squirted out from the ruck for the visiting hooker to dive on. Walsall’s kicker was in imperious form, slotting the touch line conversion.

Lichfield continued to try and force the game, with Sam Prior and Rich Burton causing havoc, but the final phase was unable to be strung together.

It was another lineout that yielded the Myrtle Greens’ first try, with a powerful drive allowing ex-Walsall hooker Dan Clarke to score in the corner.

This seemed to settle the team as they started to hold onto the ball better. A series of forward phases took Lichfield into the 22, and as they moved the ball across the field, Rich Burton drew in two defenders and offloaded the ball to Dave Abel to dive over and score.

The hosts went into half-time leading 16-7, and came back out with a renewed impetus and a simplified approach.

It took only two minutes for a series of phases to allow Burton to stretch out and score in the corner. But the try saw him injured – the second blow to the back row – and the reshuffle took some of the direction out of the Lichfield attack.

Straight from the kick off,the ball was knocked forward into a Walsall player who seemed himself to knock it on. But play continued as the home team stood still, and the visiting eight hacked through to score in the corner.

Living off Lichfield’s errors was paying dividends for the visitors, trailing by only two points after hardly touching the ball.

The next ten minutes were very stop and start. Lichfield were beginning to dominate the set piece, and numerous lineout and scrum wins against the head took them in to the visitors 22. With a tighter game being played, the hosts rallied around their power and after successfully moving the Walsall defence around, the ball was moved to Dan Taylor who crashed over from five metres out.

Walsall regained possession from the kick off due to a dubious decision, and again exploited Lichfield’s mistakes, this time in defence, as their 12 was able to run in unchallenged from the 22.

The final 25 minutes were finely poised as the visitors pressed for a win. But the home defence was resolute.

And it was Lichfield who struck last with a well taken penalty from Josh Massey to put the game out of reach at 29-21.

October was always going to be a tricky month for Lichfield, but another win and another bonus point from an error-strewn performance shows the ability of this squad and the difference from last season, when in a very similar situation Walsall left Cooke Fields with a win.

Lichfield: Taylor, Clarke, Bassett (c), Southern, Squire, Burton, Milner, Prior; Clark, L Massey, Fielding, Maxwell-Keys, Adams, D Rowlands, J Massey. Subs: Craddock, Abel and Turner.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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