A SUPERB GAME OF RUGBY BETWEEN TWO QUALITY SIDES
Luctonians struck a key victory at the top of National 2 West, with a 22-27 victory on the road at 2nd placed Clifton, in another superb game of rugby between two quality sides.
On a dank November day in Bristol, the Herefordshire men actually never trailed in this fixture, but certainly knew they were in a contest as the lively hosts kept them honest throughout.
The game started with Lucs playing uphill and into the wind in the first period, and with the elements stacked against them they would have been fairly happy with the first half an hour of proceedings being played out largely in the middle third of the pitch with both sides failing to put together concerted periods of pressure. That was until 32 minutes in, when finally the deadlock was broken, and in very familiar fashion this season, as Charlie Grimes scored his league leading 14th try of the campaign, after slick hands from the visitors’ backline put the winger in down the right hand flank for an unconverted score.
Lucs could not field the resulting restart and gave the hosts a first real crack deep in their territory and Clifton’s efficient attack took no time at all to create the opportunity for flanker Kofi Cripps to power over from close-range and tie the scores on 36 minutes at 5-5.
This looked as though it would be the story of the half, until Clifton were penalised deep in their own territory with time pretty much dead. The league leaders went to the corner with the penalty and from the driving maul that ensued off the lineout, hooker Ben Link crashed over for his 11th try of the season and with Louis Silver banging over the conversion, Lucs took a handy 5-12 lead into the break.
The second period started with the hosts on the front foot but superb pressure from the visitors forced an error, and the flying Grimes was able to move play from one 22 to the other in next to no time. With the Clifton defence scurrying back and all offside, the referee hung out his arm for advantage but not to be satisfied with a penalty, fly-half Tom Jones pulled out a pin point cross-field kick to the corner for Giles Morell to collect and score in one motion for his second try in as many games making the score 5-17 with 42 minutes gone.
Things looked really good for the visitors when four minutes later Clifton’s flanker Daniel Broady was sent to the sin-bin for what appeared to be back chat, and from the awarded penalty, Silver slotted three points to take the lead out to a three score margin, but this was when the hosts would really knuckle down and have their best period of the game.
On 52 minutes despite being down a man, Clifton struck back as centre Will Owen powered through two would-be tacklers for the try, which was converted by fly-half Rory Taylor, who is on loan to the Bristol based side from Premiership outfit Gloucester. This made the score 12-20 and with nearly half an hour to play the game was very much alive.
Clifton would territorially dominate the next 20 minutes or so and eventually the pressure told as an exhausted looking Lucs defence was outflanked on their left hand side after multiple waves of attack, for winger Zak Hamid to go over. Taylor made no mistake with the extras and all of a sudden it was a one point game with four minutes remaining.
Just prior to the score the Kingsland based outfit had made a change at half back, with scrum-half Josh Nott replacing Jones, and Silver shifting from his usual position to 10. With the game in the balance and Lucs going through multiple phases around the halfway line, Silver would pull out a wonderful cut-out pass to the right wing to release centre Rob Aikman, who raced down the touchline, beat the cover defender and rounded closer to the sticks for Lucs fourth try, tying up the bonus point and all-but sealing the win.
Silver knocked over the crucial conversion on 78 minutes to confirm the victory and despite Clifton claiming a penalty with the final kick of the game to bring them back within seven points to receive a losing bonus-point, Lucs would, for the second season in a row, return from the Station Road ground with maximum points to their name and a 22-27 triumph.
The win, Lucs ninth in ten fixtures, sees the black and whites maintain their eight point lead at the top of the division, with Camborne who were defeated at Mortimer Park the week prior, now the 2nd placed side. Lucs are back at home this weekend as they host 9th placed Chester, where they will be surely looking to continue this momentum.
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Picture Credit – Clifton RFC