South visited Webb Ellis Road for the return league game versus Rugby Lions having narrowly lost to the unbeaten leaders at home earlier in the season. Expectations were high after two good training sessions during the week, but alas to no avail as Rugby gave no quarter to take the game.
South lost Gareth Clarke to a leg injury during the week and Mark Bayley
to work commitments to be replaced by Keiran Collins and Rod McNaughton
respectively. Len Fincham
, Aaron Langan
and Paul Chan Tung made up the bench.
Rugby started the game at pace and scored first with a converted try. Their slick and clinical approach to the game had South defending for their lives in order to stay in contention. A flurry of activity by South in the home 22 forced the Rugby scrum half to carry over his own line and South had the scrum. Unfortunately, this pressure came to nothing and Rugby broke away to score their second try. Hinton’s conversion from wide out was charged down by the electric Kris Mcfedries
, something of a rarity at any level of the game and the look on Hinton’s face when he resumed his place on the wing was priceless.
I bet that didn’t happen in any of his games for Leeds in the premiership!
scored a good try after concerted pressure by the South pack which went unconverted, then South immediately lost Simon Johnson
to a yellow card offence and Rugby went onto score two more unconverted tries to take the score to 22-5 at half time. At this time the home team were completely on top exhibiting a an exciting brand of slick, clinical rugby with excellent support play that South needed to match.
However, South were down by a similar score at home in the first game and came back to threaten and they nearly did it again in this game too.
With a mountain to climb South came out all guns blazing with the Bale brothers especially, Johnson, Sam Badham, Rod McNaughton
and James Stapleford all carrying well to take the game to the home side and getting behind their defence. Replacement Aaron Langan
continued in the same vein when coming on for Max Castrogiovanni mid way through the half.
A number of moves broke down through lack of support, but Connor Smith
scored a well executed try wide out on the right with Mark Lord
narrowly wayward with the difficult conversion. South now had the confidence to move the ball wider and with a little more application could have scored again during a period of considerable pressure on the home line.
Rugby scored two more tries to seal the game while livewire flanker Johnson broke away to score South’s third try of the day at the death, which again went unconverted, leaving South on the wrong end of a 34-15 scoreline at the final whistle.
As in the first game, South probably gave too much respect to their opponents in the one sided first half and eventually paid the price. However, the commitment and hard work shown in the second showed the heart of the players and another try would have been a bonus point reward for their efforts in taking the game to the hosts – sadly it wasn’t to be.
Team: Culpin, Collins (Chan Tung), Smith, Keeling, Lord, McFedries, Bale C, Johnson, Castrogiovanni (Langan), Bale S, Badham, McNaughton, Coltman ©, Stapleford.
Unused replacement: Fincham.
Men of the Match: Chris Bale
and Simon Johnson