After back-to-back victories, unsurprisingly there were very few changes to the match day squad for the visit of Birmingham & Solihull. The only change in the pack was Luke Taplin stepping up from the bench to replace Jack Hawley who dropped down to the bench. In the backs, Greg Massey was fit again and slotted into his usual full-back position meaning Josh Massey reverted back onto the wing to replace Callum Aspley and the returning Will Cotterhill made the bench in place of Jordan Pincombe.
Lichfield produced their best performance of the season to beat a strong Birmingham & Solihull side and pull further clear of the relegation places.
After a sprinkling of snow in the morning, it was a bitterly cold afternoon at Cooke Fields and it took Lichfield 10 minutes to get going as Birmingham & Solihull got themselves on the scoreboard first.
A fairly simple penalty kick at goal from the Bees’ scrum-half, Jack Jolly, was missed after 5 minutes but 5 minutes later, they struck. Following a string of penalties against the Lichfield scrum, Birmingham & Solihull found themselves with an attacking 5-metre line-out. After setting up a rolling maul it was left to their 2nd row, Chris Goddard, to muscle his way over. The conversion from the Bees’ scrum-half hit the post but the Bees had established an early 5-0 lead.
Lichfield hit back 10 minutes after a loose clearance kick saw Jonny Evans pick up the ball and pass inside to Greg Massey. Up against a few forwards, he ran round them with ease before drawing the full-back and passing to the supporting Charlie Milner. Good cover defence saw Charlie Milner get chased down but he passed it back inside to the free again Greg Massey who slide over. He successfully converted his own try and Lichfield lead 7-5.
5 minutes later Lichfield missed a chance to increase their lead as a 35-metre penalty sailed wide of the posts and the Bees made Lichfield pay for this missed chance. Another attacking 5 metre line-out saw another rolling maul be set-up but Lichfield were able to bring it down right on their own try line. After several tight pick and go phases by the Bees’ pack it was left to their 2nd row, Chris Goddard again, to barge his way over. This time scrum-half, Jack Jolly, successfully converted the try and the Bees now led 12-7.
5 minutes before half-time Lichfield were able to cut the deficit after the Bees conceded a penalty right in front of goal. Greg Massey slotted the easy penalty at goal which took the score to 12-10 to the Bees.
Lichfield were not done there in the first half as right on the stroke of half-time they struck. A well-executed blindside scrum move saw the ball move wide and into the hands of Greg Massey who took play up to the Bees’ 10-metre line. With play seemingly have to go the other way, Charlie Milner spotted space down a very narrow blindside and took full advantage to break through before drawing in the final defender and passing inside to the supporting Jonny Evans who ran round to score under the posts. Greg Massey added the simplest of extras and Lichfield went into the break 17-12 up.
The first 20 minutes drew no scores despite both sides having promising moments in attack. This was until Lichfield had an attacking line-out 5 metres from the line. They set up a rolling maul and were inching ever closer to the line until the Bees’ pack decided to pull the maul down leaving the referee no other choice but to award a penalty try and dish out a yellow card to one of the Bees’ props. Greg Massey once again added the simplest of extras to increase Lichfield’s lead to 24-12.
Just 5 minutes later, another well-executed blindside scrum move saw Greg Massey break through and run deep into the Bees’ 22 before being brought down. Good support play saw Lichfield continue the attack before being held up over the try line. From the resultant attacking 5 metre scrum, it was left to skipper, Richard Burton, to pick up off the base of the scrum and dive over for Lichfield’s fourth and bonus point try. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed but Lichfield had stretched their lead to 29-12.
Lichfield were not done there, a sharp and slick looking backs move saw the ball be moved wide through the hands to Josh Massey. With the full-back closing down his space, he chipped the ball over into space for Will Cotterhill to collect and touch down for Lichfield’s 5th try of the day. This time, Josh Massey took over kicking responsibly and successfully kicked the conversion to seal a convincing 36-12 bonus point victory for the Myrtle Greens.
Three wins on the bounce for Lichfield have seen Lichfield climb out of the relegation places and they will look to rise further up the table when they travel to face Bridgnorth RFC this Saturday (18th February).