Lichfield made the short journey to Derby RFC with a few changes to the matchday squad that pushed the now table topping Broadstreet RFC all the way. In the pack, with Charlie Milner and Luke Taplin both unavailable, Jack Hawley stepped up from the bench to replace Luke Taplin, Richard Burton switched from his usual No. 8 position to take Charlie Milner’s spot meaning Suvwe Obano started at No. 8 having last played in the front row leaving Kev Birt to fill this front row position. In the backs, Richard Fielding took over Callum Aspley’s position on the wing whilst the unavailable Will Cotterhill was replaced by the fit again Bamidele Fadahunsi at full-back whilst the bench consisted of Ollie Savage, Lewis Hawley and Sam Friend.
After a solid performance against now table topping Broadstreet RFC, despite losing that match confidence was still high and it definitely showed in Lichfield’s first half performance against Derby RFC.
On a dry day, it was definitely set-up for Lichfield’s wide expansive style of play and they duly delivered in the first half scoring four tries. After only two minutes, the ball was spread wide to Greg Massey on the half-way line who rounded his opposite man before drawing the full-back and passing to the supporting Bamidele Fadahunsi. Closing in on the try line, he was tackled metres from the line but was able to stretch out to touch the ball down over the line. The touchline conversion was missed by Greg Massey but Lichfield had an early 5-0 lead.
Better was to come just minutes later, when reclaiming possession in Derby’s half, Bamidele Fadahunsi picked up a loose ball 40 metres out. Some sharp footwork and a burst of pace saw him skip round and run away from several defenders leaving him a simple stroll to the try line for his and Lichfield’s second try of the day. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed again but Lichfield had established a 10-0 lead after only 5 minutes.
This lead wasn’t too last long as Derby hit back just 5 minutes later. After gaining possession and working their up field to Lichfield’s 22, the ball was spread to stretch Lichfield’s defence. The covering defence weren’t able to catch Derby’s winger, Emillen Cabale, who dived over the line for an unconverted score and cut the deficit to 10-5.
Lichfield responded to this score almost immediately as from a first phase scrum move, the ball was again spread wide to Greg Massey. Derby clearly hadn’t learnt their lesson from earlier in the game and he was given too much space to round his opposite number again before stepping and outpacing the covering full-back to score in the corner for a superb individual try. This time, he successfully converted his own try to extend Lichfield’s out to 17-5 after 20 minutes.
Derby weren’t deterred by this and soon hit back again with two tries in a 5-minute spell. First, after working their deep into Lichfield’s 22, they soon found themselves with an attacking 5-metre line-out. The initial line-out drive was thwarted by good Lichfield defence but several close pick and go phases later, it was left to the Derby pack to drive themselves over with their skipper, Ben Coombes, emerging as the try scorer. Just like their first try, the conversion was missed to take the score to 17-10.
Derby were soon level after they found themselves with a similar attacking 5-metre line-out. From the line-out, a rolling maul was set-up and this enabled the Derby pack to just about muscle their way over the line with their skipper again, Ben Coombes, the beneficiary player at the back of the maul to drop over the try line. This time, Derby fly-half, George Castledine, kicked the conversion to level up the scores at 17-17.
It was after this score that Lichfield’s attack starting clicking again and after several strong carries, with the help of Derby conceding a few soft penalties, Lichfield had worked their up into Derby’s 22. A nice backs play saw Harvey Wootton come in off his wing to half break through the tackle of two Derby players before being able to offload the ball to the supporting Greg Massey who ran in under the posts to touch down for his second and Lichfield’s fourth and bonus point try. Again, he successfully converted his own try to give Lichfield a 24-17 lead.
Derby could have closed the game before half-time but a penalty kick at goal was missed by their fly-half, George Castledine, so Lichfield went into the break 24-17 up.
Going into the second half, the first and score came with just 10 minutes left. Despite Derby being camped in the Lichfield half for the majority of the second half, good, solid defence by Lichfield saw them repel every Derby attack and there was no sense that Derby would eventually break through and score at any point in the second half. The only points they scored in the second half were through their fly-half, George Castledine, who kicked a penalty at goal to close the score to 24-20 with just under 10 minutes to go. A slightly nervy last 10 minutes was relatively easily defended by Lichfield, and once they claimed possession of the ball they wound down the clock where it was left to Jonny Evans to kick the ball out and start the celebrations from the players, coaching staff and supporters who had made the journey.
This victory saw Lichfield rise to 8th in the table and further away from the relegation places but they will have to wait until Saturday 25th March to play Towcestrians RFC (kick-off 3pm) again as there is another league break this weekend (Saturday 18th March).