Sat 8 Apr 2017

     With several players returning from being unavailable, there were plenty of changes to Lichfield’s match day squad against Nuneaton RFC. In the pack, Dan Taylor moved from 2nd row to front row to replace Callum Hagyard and Joe Thompson returned to fill one of the 2nd row shirts. Jack Hawley was then moved from the back row into the 2nd row replacing his brother, Lewis Hawley, which enabled the returning Luke Taplin to fill the No. 6 shirt. In the backs, Jonny Evans returned in place of Callum Aspley, Richard Fielding moved from centre to go onto the wing in place of the absent Bamidele Fadahunsi which left Chris Milner to move from 12 to 13 so the returning Dan Rowlands could fill the 12 shirt. Greg Massey slotted back into his usual full-back position replacing the injured Josh Massey whilst Will Cotterhill replaced Jack Dace on the bench alongside Ollie Savage and John Doubleday.

     In brilliant sunshine and on a hardening pitch Lichfield travelled to Liberty Way to play promotion candidates Nuneaton. A bright opening by the Lichfield side was rewarded by a lovely team try finished off by Richard Fielding in the right corner to lead 5-0 after 4 minutes. Lichfield pressured the home defence again but this time they held out.

     Nuneaton’s first serious attack penetrated several weak tackles for Rob Cook to score and convert his own try to take a 7-5 lead, and a lead they never surrendered. A line out in the left corner led to a try by Callum Grant Smith which Rob Cook coolly converted from the touch line for a 14-5 lead after 15 minutes.

     Game-ending injuries to Luke Massey and then Jonny Evans led to a major disruption among the visitors back line. However, Lichfield reduced the arrears as replacement Will Cotterhill came on at scrum half to roll the ball behind the defence to score under the posts leaving Greg Massey with the simple successful conversion after half an hour. Dan Rowlands was then sin-binned and on 35 minutes the home side scored from a scrummage which was finished off by Jackson Hughes which left the score at 19-12 and this score remained the same until half-time.

     A good start to the second half was needed by the City side as they were well in the game. The impressive home scrum-half, Tom Smitham, had other ideas avoiding several poor tackles in a 50-metre run to score under the posts for Cook to convert again to take the score to 26-12. Rowlands returned but was replaced on the naughty step by Luke Taplin but this didn’t stop the quick response which was needed by Lichfield aa following several phases of attack Greg Massey opened up the defence only to hauled down yards short of the line. A great offload sent Cotterhill over for his second try and with Massey converting, Lichfield trailed 26-19.

      A penalty from Cook eased his side 29-19 ahead and with 14 players still on the pitch the hard-working Chris Milner was rewarded with a fine try for Massey to add the extras to make the score 29 -26 to the home side. Luke Taplin returned but then Jack Hawley was sin-binned immediately after and Nuneaton seized their chance to finish off the game as two tries by centre, Moses Liwaliwa, and a second by Jackson Hughes, plus two further conversions by Cook, settled any home nerves.

     Conceding 19 points in the final 10 minutes did not reflect the closeness of the whole match but the bonus-point gained by the Lichfield side alongside Bridgnorth’s victory over Sandbach meant they have mathematically retained their Level 5 status and will compete in the newly named Midlands Premier League for the 2017/18 season.

     The Myrtle Greens have a final weekend off before hosting the last game of the season on April 22nd at Cooke Fields against Old Halesonians where they will look to finish off the season in style and settle some scores from their previous encounter in the first league game of this season (kick-off 3pm).