This week it was the lions turn to take to the road and travel to Cleobury Mortimer. A notoriously difficult place to go and pick up the points. With a few moaning about the weather and even questioning if the game would be played or not injured Captain Ley asked for calm and to focus on the game. Confirmation came from Cleobury that the pitch was perfectly fine. GAME ON.
With injuries, illness and general unavailability running through the team, call ups for Chay White, Alex Turner, Daniel Shorter and Andy Homer were made. Andy Lawson continued to get comfortable in the 10 jersey and bullet was welcomed back into the 9 shirt. Daniel Blake made a start in the second row whilst Alex Turner and Dan Clark started on the wings. Stephan Frost Captain.
Lawson got the game started, the kick went up high and far but unfortunately straight out. Cleobury opted for the scrum in the centre of the pitch. Time for the lions to put an early marker down and show they were not here to be bullied. A solid scrum from both teams saw the Cleobury 9 emerge with the ball and ship it to 10, a wayward kick landed in the hands of the free running Larry. 12 v 12 a massive early collision before Larry went to ground. Great support from Captain Frosty clearing out the opposition which gave bullet the chance to recycle quick ball. Two then Three phases of good secure rugby from Cannock saw us batter our way up the field. Forwards were running in pods off Lawson giving the 10 little to think about. Eventually Cannock ran out of support allowing Cleobury to turn over the ball. The home side ran the ball through their backs quickly covering 30 metres. Alex Turner made an important tackle on their winger after a failed drift defence from the Cannock backs. Good rucking from Josh Humphreys saw Cannock retrieve the ball before a poor referring decision gave Cleobury back possession of the ball. A kick to the corner meant some hard defence was required from Cannock.
A successful line out which Cannock did not engage allowed Cleobury to make an easy 10 meters, Cannock were now camped back in their 5. Big tackles where going in as Cleobury tried to penetrate a stubborn Cannock defence. Eventually the Cleobury 9 spotted a gap and dotted down under the sticks. Converted.
After a frantic start to the game Andy Lawson had the ball in hand to restart again. This time it was chased down by Soccer and Daniel Blake. Big hits went in from Joe Brookes and Halil to try and stop Cleobury’s big runners. The Cannock pack worked tirelessly in defence, Jay Barrett putting his injured body on the line at will whist Craig Richards was forever present to nullify the pressure. Daniel Blake proving why he should be a forward not a back he was a constant menace in the tackle and break down area. Cleobury where not going through the tough defence so were forced to change tactics and had to go over which proved a great decision. Dan Clarke slightly miss judging the ball allowed the fast approaching winger to latch onto the loose ball and run it home. Try under the sticks easily converted.
Captain Frost asked that we keep up the intensity and go back at them. Scrambled defence from Cannock backs saw Larry in possession once again making important yards. Frost and Halil were there once more to sure up the ball. Lawson fed Chay White who punched holes in the opposition all day offloaded to soccer who stepped past a defender and went to pop pass to the supporting lions, quick defence from Cleobury saw Soccer rethink his decision and wisely go to ground to set another phase. Lawson called for the ball and let the backs have a run. Cleobury gave away a penalty for being offside a kick to the corner was instructed. A successful line out from the lion’s added heaped pressure on Cleobury as Cannock now crept into the 22. Bullet to Lawson back inside to Barrett brought a massive shoulder charge from the opposition 12. Yellow card. An opportunity to get some points on the board. With no recognised kicker amongst the ranks Humphreys was asked to take up kicking duties for the lions. No tee brought on the pitch and 30 seconds remaining soccer made a dent in the dirt and put the ball down. Humphreys stepped up and struck the post. Ball was still live Cleobury reacted quickest and surged up the field a big tackle from Nick Platek ended the attack and also ended his game taking a nasty knock the head. Introducing Andy Homer. Cleobury picked up an easy 3 points for an infringement of ill-discipline. Cannock responded with 3 points of their own with Humphreys off the tee.
Message from Obi, Frost and Halil was simple continue with the same intensity use the forwards and backs be patient. More support runners were needed to move and break down the Cleobury defence.
The second half started with Cannock on the front foot. Dominating scrum after scrum came to nothing as Cannock kept cheaply giving away silly possession throwing hopeful rather than meaningful passes. Cleobury were yet to really test the visitors in the second half but Cannock forgot their discipline and were penalised for being off side. A kick to the corner meant big defence was required inside the 22. A good line out from Cleobury and some poor defence from Cannock allowed them to cross the line. Converted.
Desperately needing a try to gain some points from a dominant display. Cannock went on the hunt from the restart. Halil and Soccer quickly putting down the opposition left Cleobury camped in their own half a tactical kick was retrieved by full back Clarke and ran back up the field. Quick phase ball gave Andy Homer a chance he saw a gap and went for it, past two defenders with ease only to be brought down by a recovery tackle. A scattered Cleobury defence offered no protection meaning Larry could pick the ball up and hurdle over the Cleobury man and dot down. Conversion missed.
With Cannock watching the score line slowly tick over in their favour, Cleobury enjoyed some possession carrying hard yards. Big hits were going in all over. A second shoulder charge from the opposition 12 this time missed by referee sparked Cannock back into life. Front foot ball from Lawson saw Cannock make big strides up the park. The pack working well in pods and dominant in the scrum surely a second try was imminent. Cleobury gave a cheap penalty away for consistent infringement in the scrum, Captain Frost called for the scrum again. Soccer doing what he does best picking off the back and going over the whitewash. Humphreys had the chance to make it 26-15 unfortunately striking the woodwork for the second time in the game.
13 points in it meant Cleobury had to put pressure on the tiring lions to make sure of their victory and get the bonus point in their bid for promotion. Cannock seemed to frequently gain possession only to throw it straight away with silly offloads. A scrum inside the Cannock 22 saw the final try of the game. The big Cleobury number 8 picked of the back of the scrum and threw an audacious dummy and go under the sticks. Converted.
Last big moment of the game was a humongous hit from Stephan Frost sending the cheeky 8 back 3 yards. Cannock did well to defend their line once more.
Man of the Match went to Larry, some huge hits and good carries complement another sturdy performance from the young man.
Thank you to all our sponsors, Wakelake, NMB, DGL.
Training continues this week on Thursday 19:15 at the Morgan Ground.