Lichfield RFC 31 - 17 Sheffield RUFC
Sheffield start incredibly slowly before staging a come-back and falling at the last hurdle...
Lichfield RFC 31 - 17 Sheffield RUFC
Team Selection for Saturday, 6th October 2018
15 Andy Hodgson
14 Rupert Broadley
13 Lewis Bowman
12 Ben Parker
11 Ali Womack
10 Matt Law
9 Will Hodgson
1 Joe Cooke
2 Michael Bradford
3 Ben Whitney
4 Dave Clayden
5 Jack Hawley
6 Ianto Jones
7 Tom Womack
8 Sean Casey
16 Tommy Marples (FR)
17 Joe Carrington
18 Ed Topley
Following last week’s demolition of Doncaster Phoenix, Sheffield were once again on the road, on this occasion to Lichfield RFC who had already played the Clubs at the top of the league. Sheffield must play these opponents over the next few weeks. As the week progressed the injury and unavailability of players worsened and Sheffield were to travel without the services of captain and scrum-half Steve Depledge, prop forward Dan Rylance, newly found backrow, Zak Smith, centres James Flint and Rob Conville. In addition, Dom Parsons, Angus Hughes and Ben Shore all remain unavailable. Therefore, this was always going to be a challenging match.
Sheffield kicked-off on a cold afternoon, but in bright sunshine. However, it was Lichfield who would soon shine. Litchfield were soon back up to halfway and punching holes in Sheffield’s defence, the away team looked to be preverbally “still not off the bus”. So, with barely two minutes gone Sheffield’s defence was breached, with Lichfield’s centre Matt Goodall, going over close to the posts. Fullback Greg Massey added the conversion and Lichfield led by 7 points to nil. Little improved for the visitors, with Lichfield managing to keep hold of the ball almost in entirety and what little ball Lichfield ceded to Sheffield was soon given back through a knock-on or poor kicking. This came to a head when Sheffield had a scrum on their 5-metre line from a Lichfield knock-on. Sheffield secured the ball, but the clearance kick was charged down and whereas in most circumstances the ball would go dead, it just stuck firmly in the in-goal area and Lichfield scored their second try. Greg Massey added the conversion and Lichfield led by 14 points to nil after just nine minutes.
Some small relief came Sheffield's way five minutes later with a penalty kick, which was converted by scrum half Will Hodgson. However, four minutes later, Sheffield's defence opened up again, with full back Greg Massey scoring under the posts. Massey added the conversion to his own try and Lichfield led by 21 points to 3 after nineteen minutes. Nothing improved immediately with Lichfield’s second row Harvey Wootton going over on the left just 4 minutes later. Greg Massey missed the conversion, but Lichfield led by 26 points to 3 after twenty-three minutes. Sheffield's revival was to be potentially disrupted when flanker, Tom Womack, was contentiously sent to the sin bin on twenty-seven minutes, but Sheffield seemed to take the afront personally and conspired to take control of proceedings, just three minutes later, Tom’s brother went over for what we thought was a try out on the left. However, Lichfield’s touch judge decided a foot had gone into touch and the try was chalked off. Discussions with Lichfield’s players after the match showed that they believed the try was OK. ‘Ca-la-vie’, but if the try had stood the whole match could have been turned on it’s head. Sheffield finished the half much the stronger, but with a deficit of 26 points to 3 it was going to continue to be extremely challenging.
The second half saw Sheffield take control of proceedings and re-emerge strong enough to score tries on forty-three and forty-eight minutes, through Tom Womack and Sean Casey; with Will Hodgson adding the conversion kicks for both tries, taking the score to 26 points to 17 in favour of Lichfield, but with thirty-two minutes left to play. At this point in time it seemed entirely possible that Sheffield could overhaul the home team and win the match. However, Lichfield fronted up and worked extremely hard to keep a fairly rampant Sheffield at bay. Some poor tactical decisions in Lichfield’s 22-metre zone, including three aimless chips leading to three successive ‘Marks’ by Lichfield and the loss of the ball, conspiring to thwart the away side. Lichfield, now playing with the wind were then able to clear their lines to some distance, leaving Sheffield having to rebuild from half-way and beyond.
Then as the game moved into the final quarter, disaster was to strike. Lichfield broke away and scored wide out on the left through their number 8, Richard Burton who had been left loitering on the wing. Greg Massey failed again with the conversion, but the home sides lead was out to 14 points at 31 to 17. Sheffield battled hard but Lichfield’s defence held firm, and even the sin-binning of Lichfield’s number 8 on seventy-one minutes was not significant enough to allow Sheffield to recover and get anything out of the match at all.
The league now has week off, but we are back in action in two weeks, at home to Luctonians, before a trip away to Newport (Salop) in the midlands.