We travelled to Lichfield RFC with a number of new players to bring in, a player that has been injured for so long that it is almost as if he were starting afresh and some players trying positions for the first time. In addition it is also true that this was a group of 21 young men who were coming together for the first or second time only.
So it is not surprising that it took a little while to hit our straps, guilty of rushing when calmer hands were needed. But talent generally prevails and this bunch has that commodity in lorry loads. Frustrated for 10 minutes by some dogged defence Asher dragged a couple of hapless defenders along before popping the ball to Freddie Brooker to score wide out on the left. I am majoring on this try as it was my boy who has endured nearly three years of injury and at times we were convinced he wouldn’t play again. So he has, he is and he has scored and that’s my little moment in the sun. Ben kicked the conversion.
The second try was genuinely an 80 yarder. Callum Manley, playing his first competitive fixture for the club caught the ball from the restart and with a series of wiggles and hip twists burst through the first line of defence and then burned the full back for a spectacular score. Ben again nailed a great 2 points from the conversion. It is only right to remind the Manley clan that the protocol when your boy scores his maiden try is to buy everyone a drink. I forgot to point this out today but perhaps you will remind me next weekend. On top of that Callum had a very assured performance, especially at full back in the second half. Well done and welcome young man.
We then gifted them an intercept try which was frustrating but we rallied well and Asher scored twice before half time to help us build a decent lead. Ben kicked one of these two for impressive figures of 3 from 4.
In the second half we rang the changes, both for tactical and injury reasons. I hope this mail finds Joe Scott in a better state after his nasty shoulder injury just before half time. We took some time again to get up to speed in the second half and it was clear that Lichfield had some of their better players on the pitch now, competing more effectively at the ruck and stealing our ball on more than one occasion. But stress breaks things and our persistent pressure eventually brought results with Seb Dibb breaking off the back of a ruck to score under the posts. James Pagan kicked the conversion.
Some poor defence allowed a second Lichfield try which was converted but the best was to come. On two occasions the forwards breached the defence and the ball was worked wide for first Callum Findlay to score under the posts and then Harvey Edwards to deservedly cap off what I think was his best performance for the club since he joined us. James Pagan had a great game when he came on showing a new, steelier side than we have been used to and expertly spotting the opportunity to go wide and then executing for the last two tries.
There were standout performances across the pitch but particular mention goes to JJ at lock, James Peto in the centres whose tackling was textbook perfect, Ben Shipton and Callum Findlay who at one point out-rucked three players on his own and nearly snatched a second try. I would not have seen that last season and is great to see him adding that to his game. A massive welcome to Harry Hutchings as well who hit the second half running and has already shown that he is a great addition to the team.