Midlands Premier League
Luctonians RFC 22 v 14 Sheffield RUFC
Saturday 9th February 2019
You know it’s windy when someone has left the gates open in Wales and you are at Mortimer Park in February, its 8 degrees on the thermometer but you still need hat, scarf, gloves and 3 layers. It was howling in towards the clubhouse pre kick-off and John Morris was practising off the tee from beyond the halfway line and the ball was sailing over the bar. I noted he wasn’t trying too often back into the wind, and Sheffield were seeing their attempts from the 22 come back towards them at t’other end.
Knocker was out with his garden fork, poking around looking for daffodils and crocus in the swamp at clubhouse end but, despite the elements, he had once again turned out a beaut of a pitch for the game.
After 3 weeks away, following a win, a loss and a free Saturday, the boys were looking to get back on the winning trail against a traditionally strong Sheffield outfit, who have been creeping up the league into possible contention for a play-off place. Defensively they would have be considered one of the stronger teams in the Midlands Section as they concede few points even in defeat.
With the wind at their backs from kick off, Lucs were on the offensive straight away. Sheffield were put on the back foot, and their clearance kick from the 5 metre hardly cleared the 22 as it landed in touch. The general feeling was that a few points would need to be accumulated in the first half, as the wind would be against us in the second. There was talk of anything from a 17 to 30 point advantage amongst the knowledgeable at the back of stand.
The first score came from a lineout following a Sheffield infringement; kick to 5m line, lineout, drive and Aiden Cheshire, who was impressive all game, rumbled over to score with the referee on his backside after being flattened by the Sheffield defence. No matter, Louis Silver knocks over the conversion and after 10mins Lucs lead 7-0.
Despite plenty of possession Lucs couldn’t add to the tally as the game progressed. A few loose passes and a turnover ball, coupled with a staunch Sheffield defence kept them away from the whitewash and, although breaks from John Morris, Josh Watkins and some smart carries from Aiden Cheshire, Connor Deignan, Guy Kirkby, Isaac Fanueli and Mat Hackley, they couldn’t break through.
The car alarm going off in the car park was also ringing alarm bells amongst the crowd as we feared we would have no real points advantage going into the second half, when we would be playing into a stiff wind.
But, as half time approached we were once again down in the mud mire at Clubhouse corner when Sheffield were penalised again for not releasing, and their No 11 was off to the bin following a yellow. From the resulting lineout Kirkby drove through to score, following some excellent work from the forwards. A difficult conversion in the wind was missed, and at half time Lucs had a reasonable lead, but was it going to be enough?
Half Time Score
Luctonians 12 v 0 Sheffield
Was the wind abating? The rumble in the stands was that it might just be, and we might not be looking at a Sheffield barrage from long high kicks and pressure on the back line. Straight on the offensive, Lucs were looking to move the ball from the breakdown and Drew Cheshire was held up over the line in the corner following a flowing move which had Louis Silver, Isaac Fanueli and Aiden Cheshire all playing a part.
Sheffield kicked a howler of a clearance and, from the lineout, Kirkby was off the back of the ruck down the blindside and over, and the lead was now 17-0. The conversion was again missed as the wind, which wasn’t gusting as bad, still made kicking difficult. Restart and Lucs were straight on the ball. Quick hands down the back line and Fanueli was over into the corner. 22-0, no extras and only 44 minutes played on the Rolex.
Sheffield’s Eleven was now back on, they started to play with what wind was blowing at their backs and, within 5 minutes, had their first points when Hodgson ran in from half way, with Depledge converting to bring the score back to 22-7.
Fanueli was unlucky when, on the hour, he was tackled into touch close to the line and both sides were looking like they might add to the score. Tom Williams was on for his debut when Josh Watkins went down with cramp, and what a debut; he didn’t get to touch the ball before Watkins returned; but got a great round of applause.
Both defences were being mean and, despite both teams getting close to the try-line no quarter was given until Sheffield scored through the other Hodgson, this one being the ‘W’ version, and the reliable Depledge knocked over the conversion. 22-14.
With no time to gain a winning advantage Sheffield played to get a losing bonus, but Lucs held firm and ground out an excellent 5-point bonus win against a very competitive and useful Sheffield side.
Full Time Score
Luctonians 22 v 14 Sheffield
Luctonians Man of the Match
Tries: Aiden Cheshire, Guy Kirkby (2), Isaac Fanueli
Tries: Hodgson A, Hodgson W
Convs: Depledge (2)
Josh Watkins, Drew Cheshire, Isaac Fanueli, Alex Smith, John Morris, Will Burton, Louis Silver; Connor Deignan, Guy Kirkby, Joe White, Max Katjijeko, Conor Turner, Henry Monkley, Mat Hackley, Aiden Cheshire
Replacements: George Newman, Owien Harriott-Davis, Tom Williams
Hodgson A, Broadley, Flint, Parker, Bowman, Hodgson W, Depledge; Whitney, Bradford, Rylance, Clayden, Parsons, Hignell, Womack T, Casey
Replacements: Cooke, Hughes, Womack A
Mr Callum Watson
Sheffield will give Newport a tough game next weekend while we are at Bournville, and Broadstreet will be home to Doncaster. 7 rounds to go so plenty of time for a few upsets. If you are travelling next week stay off the Cream Eggs as they don’t mix with the beer.
If you are supporting the boys then MAKE SOME NOISE – They Love it!
Next up at Home are Bridgnorth, on 2nd March. Another local derby and we will be looking to put one over them, as they beat us back in November.
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