Lions Go Top Again After Famous Win
A stunning game of rugby played in front of a passionate crowd!
The Lions, after a 37-19 demolition of leaders Leek, stand on the edge of the most momentous point in their history, with promotion to Midlands 1 a single, tantalising match away. Win at Newcastle on 22nd April and they will be playing the likes of Dudley Kingswinford, Hereford and others; not bad for a club with no paid players that prides itself on its amateur status and has only been going for 15 years or so.
In front of perhaps their highest ever home audience, a passionate crowd of around 200 roared them home. They played with creativity, speed and overwhelming commitment and, apart from a 20-minute period either side of half-time, with 2 players in the bin, dominated Leek to such an extent that the leaders have dropped to 3rd place.
An emotional John Tibbets, the coach who has brought the team to this point, praised the crowd and the noise they made in backing the players, saying that he was blown away by their support. Without wishing to name one man of the match there were heroes all over the pitch - Owen Williams at 15, George Tildesley who has scored tries for fun this season; the back row where Alex Jones and Scotty Langdon, in their different ways, were outstanding. The front five dominated their opponents and Adam Bowser at prop was the focus behind which the pack drove Leek backwards. This, however takes away from what was a brilliant squad performance, with 18 men of the match.
The game opened with a bang; after 7 minutes the Lions forced the away side back into their 22 where Leek had a lineout 10 metres from their own line. The home pack forced a desperate flap at the ball and the first to pounce was openside Rich Pennock for the opening try, superbly converted from wide on the right by Ben Trinham. 7-0 and game on.
The home side continued to dominate, probing Leek’s defences through forwards and backs with admirable intensity. The second score duly arrived when Ben Trinham banged over a longish penalty for 10-0, 3 minutes after the try. This was followed by a fine try inspired by Owen Williams’ fine run and inside pass for scrum-half Will King to scamper over.
What came next was King’s second try and an even better one. A brilliant move involving sublime play from Cass Brookes ended with an inside pass to George Tildesley and a flick to the supporting King to cross for 20-0, soon to be 22-0 with another Trinham conversion. Half an hour gone and the Lions were in heaven, seemingly home and hosed before half-time.
However, at this point, Leek fought back and began to make inroads into the Lions’ half. Helped by yellow cards for Langdon and Bowser the away side camped in the Lions 22 and, on the point of half-time, after a series of penalties, they finally crossed the line for a converted try.
Worse was to come for the Lions early in the second half. With only 14 men on the field the home side were unable to prevent a drive from a lineout and Leek went over for a converted try to reduce the arrears to 22-14. Despite the try this was the last time that Leek really threatened.
On came Bowser after the binning and the Lions dominated. After 10 minutes a move from a lineout and play going right and then back left gave Fred Brookes the chance to run on to Langdon’s pass and score under the posts for the bonus points. The conversion and subsequent penalty from Trinham gave the Lions breathing space again at 32-14 with 25 minutes to go.
The game began to peter out after this, with even the Lions’ intensity fading. However, with 15 minutes to go the home side conjured up another try. A Leek lineout inside the Lions’ half was stolen and Scotty Langdon ran almost 50 metres and through or round 3 tackles before passing to Tildesley to finish in the corner. Right on full-time the visitors scored the final try for 37-19. Cue well-deserved and joyous celebrations both on the pitch and in the stands.
by JON DEWS
Photos by Ceri and Sian Davies