Fri 07 Apr 2017 17:40

Sat 1 Apr 2017

Lichfield RUFC Ltd
Longton RFC

     With several injuries and unavailability, there were a few changes to the match day squad for the game against Longton RFC. With no Joe Thompson or Callum Turner in the 2nd row, Dan Taylor and Lewis Hawley stepped up to fill the gap whilst Callum Hagyard started at prop instead of the unavailable Suvwe Obano. In the backs, no Jonny Evans meant Callum Aspley started at 9, no Dan Rowlands or Tom Adams in the centres meant Chris Milner and Richard Fielding both returned from injuries whilst no Greg Massey meant Josh Massey who was also back from injury filled the full-back position. On the bench, Ollie Savage was back alongside John Doubleday again and Jack Dace.

          In near perfect conditions and playing on a large Cooke Fields pitch, the stage was set for a real entertaining game of rugby and neither team disappointed as Lichfield and Longton served up 13 tries and 86 points.

     The game started well for Lichfield as just 2 minutes in, after moving up the field and into the Longton 22, a Charlie Milner half-break was followed by a nice offload to the supporting Richard Fielding to dive over for the first score of the day. Josh Massey converted and Lichfield led 7-0.

     Longton hit back with two tries of their own within 5 minutes as first, Longton’s inside centre, Sefanaia Bulumakau, crossed out wide after simple hands along the Longton backline exploited the overlap which had been created. Then, following a penalty on the Lichfield line, Longton opted for an attacking 5-metre scrum, which they inched ever closer to the line until they lost control of the ball at the base but fortunately for them, scrum-half, Dan Jones, was quickest to re-act to touch the ball down over the try line. Both tries were unconverted by fly-half, Lee Brogan, but Longton were now leading 10-7.

     Lichfield moved back in front halfway through the first half as following several tight pick and go forward phase round the corner to draw in Longton’s defence, the ball was quickly moved wide where a sharp backs move saw Luke Massey feed Harvey Wootton who powered his way over from 5 metres out to score underneath the sticks. Josh Massey converted once more and Lichfield re-took the lead at 14-10.

     However, Longton hit back once again with another two tries in the space of 5 minutes and in near identical fashion. First, following a turnover on halfway, the ball was spread wide to their full-back, Jack Newton-Taylor who just about sprinted past the desperate covering defence to score underneath the posts. Then, from another turnover, this time inside their own 22, Longton exploited several holes in the Lichfield defence to make their way up field before the ball was spread wide once again to full-back, Jack Newton-Taylor, who handed off the last Lichfield defender to once again score under the posts. Both tries were converted this time by fly-half, Lee Brogan, and Longton had established a 24-14 after 30 minutes.

     Worse was to come for Lichfield, as from another Longton attack inside Lichfield’s 22, Bamidele Fadahunsi was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on and fly-half, Lee Brogan, stepped up to kick the penalty to extend Longton’s lead to 27-14. Whilst down to 14 men, Longton scored again as through Lichfield’s stretched defence, Longton noticed no full-back was in position so kicked ahead. Inside-centre, Sefanaia Bulumakau, sprinted past the chasing back Lichfield defenders to fly-hack the ball along the floor multiple times before managing to drop on the ball over the Lichfield try line first. Again, the conversion was successful and Longton went further ahead at 34-14.

     Despite seven tries already being scored in the first half they were still time for an eighth but not before Longton hooker, George Glenn, and Lichfield skipper, Richard Burton, were both sin-binned for a minor fracas. The eighth and Lichfield’s third try of the day came after several minutes of pressure on the Longton line saw the ball shift back down the blindside of Longton’s defence to Lewis Hawley who clever dummy saw him cross right on the stroke of half-time. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed and Longton went in at the break 34-19 ahead.

     Soon after the break, Longton’s inside-centre, Sefanaia Bulumakau, scored his hat-trick try following another Longton breakout from within their own 22 and despite having their full-back, Jack Newton-Taylor sin-binned for an offside offence they still managed another breakout try from within their own half again which this time was finished off underneath the sticks by their hooker, George Glenn. With both tries converted again Longton were 48-19 ahead after 60 minutes.

     Lichfield did not give up however and they were soon rewarded with their fourth and bonus point try of the day. After stretching Longton’s defence inside their own 22, it wasn’t long before an overlap was created and this left Richard Fielding to dive over untouched in the corner for his second and Lichfield’s fourth try of the day. Josh Massey kicked an excellent touchline conversion to make the score 48-26 and they soon struck again. This time, several strong forward carries saw Lichfield move deep inside Longton’s 22 before skipper, Richard Burton, set-up Ollie Savage who finished off in the corner for Lichfield’s fifth try of the day. This time, the conversion was unsuccessful but Lichfield had dragged the score back to 48-31.

     However, it was Longton who had the final say as the last play of the game saw Longton chip over the rushing Lichfield defence from a first phase play for Longton’s onrushing outside centre, Billy Wara, to collect and touch down in the corner for Longton’s eighth try of the day. The conversion was successful which took the score to 55-31 and the full-time whistle blew immediately after.

     A disappointing day at the office for Lichfield but they did pick up a try bonus point and they will now look to bounce back and when they travel to Nuneaton RFC (kick-off 3pm) in the penultimate game of the season.