Lions Go Down Fighting at Stoke
By Mark Denison
Worrying times for the Lions as they went down to a fast and powerful Stoke outfit by 45-9.
They are now balanced precariously above the relegation zone, 14 points clear of Moseley Oak but level on points with Worcester and Droitwich, they are in need of a couple of wins to settle them down.
Shorn of players through injury and other absences, the Lions put up a brave fight against a well-organised and creative Stoke, who dominated at the breakdown. As the game went on, though, the home side’s greater organisation and the pressure of keeping them out left a tiring away fifteen open to fast breaks in the face of the wind.
The first half was a classic example of good play by the Lions, interspersed with poor tackling as they were outflanked or left threadbare by powerful runs from deep. They did take the game to Stoke, with the wind behind them and brave performances from Pennock and Poole among others. Mitchell landed three penalties against 3 home tries and there was a belief that, although into the wind, the second half might bring some reward.
The half had barely opened, however, when hopes were dashed and the game ended as a contest by two home tries in just over a minute. Two more tries and conversions gave Stoke the bonus point and, despite a brave rally around 20 minutes into the half, that was it.
A chastening experience for a young side who suffered more injuries during the match. There is now a need for the strongest squad possible for next Friday’s game away at Worcester.