Super-fit Lions overcome OAs
Old Albanians 19
Leicester Lions 36
AFTER a glorious opener to the pre-season games at Nuneaton last week, OAs saw the other side of midlands rugby losing to Leicester Lions by five tries and a penalty to three tries.
OAs second team, however, managed to slaughter Peterborough Lions afterwards with a fine win on the first team pitch.
Leicester Lions, a merger ten year years ago of the Wigston and Westleigh clubs and with four seasons at this level in National League 2 North, proved to be an entirely different proposition to Nuneaton. They were super-fast, super-fit and had that animal instinct for retrieving the ball from seemingly impossible situations. The lion tamer had clearly done his job well; they worked for and with each other, had a sixth sense for finding team mates with crisp passes and for making unexpected interceptions.
For OAs, a purple patch of ten minutes early in the first half saw two tries scored in entertaining fashion; ominously, on each occasion, the Lions struck back immediately with tries of their own and continued in that vein right up to half time showing how they have finished in or around the top ten of their league for the last four years. OAs will be wise to learn from their organisational ability and self-discipline if they are to prosper in League Two South. The first test begins next week at Hinckley.
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Wes Cope, a hirsute acquisition from Spalding at hooker, finished off a drive to the line for his new club’s first try which Richard Gregg failed to convert.
Almost immediately the Lions worked the ball upfield from the restart for their scrum half to burrow over for a try under the posts, converted by their No 10.
OAs were still in full flight and Chris Lombaard drove a magnificent 35 metres from the defending 22, some good passing was seen from both forwards and backs to gain a penalty from which lock Tom Gillings powered over for Gregg to convert. Unperturbed, the Lions struck back two minutes later with a succession of touch passes to score under OAs’ posts and convert again. Not content with that a minute or so later, their pressure forced OAs to concede a kickable penalty which their No 10 calmly slotted to make the score 12-17.
Seven minutes before half time Lions increased the score to 12-24 with a smartly taken try and the stroke of half time was reached with Lions No 15 dropping the ball having loped over OAs line. However, the touch judge intervened and Lions were given a penalty for a misdemeanour by his opposite number, Simon Lincoln, who otherwise had a game full of attacking running. In the confusion, the Lions’ No 8 drove over from the back of a quickly taken lineout to make the half time score 12-29.
The Lions managed one more converted try early in the second half after a side-to-side, end-to-end passing movement.
But give OAs their due. 12-36 down with a mountain to climb they kept forcing errors from the Lions and as the inevitable exchange of substitutes played out in OAs favour, a fight-back began.
Terry Adams fed with fine switch ball from James Shannahan started to find gaps in the Lions’ threequarters defence, Mark Evans’ passes from scrum half began to find their mark instead of the head of Peter Crouch, the penalty count rose in OAs favour as the Lions’ self-discipline wore thin under pressure and Chris Lombaard finished a penalty drive off with a try near the posts converted by Shannahan, for the last kick of the game.
For OAs next week’s trip to Hinckley has to include retaining the ball in the ruck and maul, disciplined passing and backing up team mates who have been caught in possession if precious away points are to be brought home to Woollams.
OAs: Gelman, Cope, Cecere, Comb, Gillings, Farenheim, Micans, Cooper-Millar, Liebenberg, Gregg, Lombaard, Shannahan, Adams, Edwards, Lincoln.
Subs: James, Hughes, Spum, Laws, Evans, Alford and May.