St Patricks tables day at Mortimer Park saw Luctonians up against third place Clifton in front of another large enthusiastic home crowd. However, Clifton spoilt the Lucs party by stealing the victory in a full-on defensive encounter in what was a low scoring match.

The away side played with loads of endeavour and for most of the first half they were camped in the home side’s half, but they struggled to make any leeway against a resolute home defence. Lucs’ penalty count was however high, and it was no surprise when home prop Conor Deignan was carded for persistent infringements in their red zone after 20 minutes.

Clifton took full advantage and scrum half Mitchell Spencer, who had a fine game throughout, lofted a high ball into the corner, where wing Zakaria Hamid took the catch and dived over for the first points of the game after 24 minutes. No.10 Luke Cozens kicked a fine conversion to give Clifton a seven-point advantage which they would maintain until half time.

Luctonians however were fast out of the blocks after the restart and had one of their few forays into Clifton territory when, after 44 minutes Clifton, who had conceded very few penalties in the first half, saw their centre Marcus Nel receive a yellow from referee Neil Sweeney for cynical play. Lucs’ Tom Jones stepped up to kick the awarded penalty to give the home side their first points against the run of play (3-7).

The momentum changed and the home side were now on the front foot, and pressure on the Clifton defence saw them score their only try from a well worked driving maul from 20 metres out. The diminutive Seb Robinson finding himself on the bottom of the pile, ball in hand, to give the home side a 8-7 lead [View try here].

It was a grind however for both sides, as defences and the high tackle count took its toll with numerous stoppages for injuries. Clifton were again seeing more of the ball in Lucs territory but they struggled to get over their try line, as Lucs’ well marshalled defence was superb.

However, the home side couldn’t hang on, and Clifton were awarded a penalty from a ruck directly in front of the posts on 71 minutes. Cozens kicked the penalty, but only after the assistants took a good look to confirm. This gave them an 8-10 lead which they didn’t relinquish, despite the best efforts of the Lucs home crowd, who tried to will their side back towards victory.

Luctonians will be disappointed with their overall performance, despite being superb throughout in defence. Clifton were probably deserved of the victory, but they will know that they have been in a battle on what was a dour weather day at Mortimer Park.

Lucs will pick themselves up and go again next week away at Chester, looking to get back on the winning trail, but now sitting behind Dings Crusaders at the top of League 2 West.

Star Man
Mitch Spencer

Luctonians Man of the Match
Rob Aikman

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