Lions Maintain Position with 24-17 Win at Malvern
By Mark Denison
The Lions come away with a bonus point win.
The Lions returned to the New Year fixtures as if they had eaten and drunk too much over the Christmas break, making very hard work of beating bottom club Malvern. It was a curate’s egg of a performance, some brilliant attacking rugby mixed with some indifferent tackling and a complete lack of focus for the first 15 minutes of the second half which almost proved their undoing.
The game was two minutes old when the Lions scored the opening try; a charge down by the industrious Jag Mahal led to a ruck from which Ben Tibbetts put George Tildesley in down the Lions left. The game was only 15 minutes old when Tibbetts snatched a ball at a ruck and was upended in a dreadful spear tackle by the Malvern prop. Cue red card and, it would seem, an easier prospect for the away team. How wrong we were.
A second Tildesley try arrived on 20 minutes, a fine team move down the right ending with Tildesley making it easy for Tom Mitchell to convert by scoring near the posts. Game set and match, it would seem, but Malvern came back and scored an unconverted try themselves near halftime.
The start of the second half saw the Lions with their feet completely off the gas and a resurgent home team calling the shots. After 45 minutes they scored, leaving the Lions precariously in the lead at 12-10. They roused themselves belatedly two minutes later. A try from Ben Tibbetts, by now back on the pitch and playing at 10, following a backs move from a lineout, restored some distance at 17-10.
Unfortunately they went to sleep again and were punished again after an hour. By this time Malvern, down to 13 players following an injury and clearly having nothing to lose, got back to 17-all with a converted try, the Lions having lost 2 players to the bin in the space of 4 minutes. It was all to play for going into the final quarter.
Again the Lions roused themselves and again the home 10 was charged down; a fine move down the touchline ended in a ruck where the ball was spun wide and Tom Mitchell jinked his way over on the right. His conversion left the game at 24-17 and that is how it remained.
This was a match where the Lions could and should have won much more comfortably but could just as easily have lost, such was the lethargy in their play at times. It is to be hoped that the Christmas rust has been removed and they get back to more convincing performances.
Natch Report by Jon Dews, pics by