Dings Crusaders came away with the spoils in the top of the table clash between themselves and Luctonians at Mortimer Park last Saturday, as the Bristol-based outfit edged out an 8-17 victory in a hugely physical affair in North Herefordshire.

Both teams came into the fixture having not lost a game in 2024, and with Dings trailing Lucs by six league points before kick off, it was a must-win game for the visitors and they duly obliged.

A very cagey first half was played out largely in the Dings half on a heavy track after a lot of rain throughout the week. The hosts looked the sharper in the early stages of the game, but could never quite sustain attacks enough to score points, as the visitors’ defence at lineout and in stopping that renowned driving maul of the home side kept the game scoreless.

It wasn’t until 25 minutes in, when Lucs finally made their territorial advantage pay, with an Owen Randell penalty after Dings had killed the ball illegally at a ruck. 3-0 was the very least the hosts deserved for their start, but that lead was soon gone as the visitors came up with a piece of brilliance in what was their first real foray into Luctonians territory. A little chip over the on-rushing defence was gathered by centre George Boulton, and several offloads followed, with Bristol Bears loan prop James Halliwell showing his athleticism to be on hand to receive the final pass and fall over the line. His fellow Bristol academy fly-half Sam Worsley added the extras, and Dings lead 3-7 after 30 minutes.

The remainder of the half followed the pattern already set, with Lucs winning the territorial battle but coughing up mistakes in the face of the best defence in the league. The 3-7 scoreline reflected a very tight first half, with the large crowd hoping for more entertainment in the second period.

Once more the hosts came out the stronger at the start of the second period, but a combination of lost lineouts, failed mauls and missed touch-finders kept the scorers quiet.

On 47 minutes the most significant moment of the game occurred in a real ‘sliding-doors’ moment. With Lucs on the rampage, a brilliant bust from Caleb Montgomery had setup a three on one, with home players swarming towards the Dings line, only for number 8 Sam Hayler’s pass that would likely have sent Archie Benson in for the score, to be picked off by another Bristol academy player in Oscar Lennon, who raced 85 metres to strike a dagger blow to the hosts. A would-be 8-7 or 10-7 lead was suddenly a 3-12 deficit thanks to one stray pass.

Credit to Lucs, they hit back almost immediately as hooker Ben Link went over for his 20th try of the season, as he picked off a speculative pass on his own line from scrum-half Lennon, who otherwise had an outstanding game for the visitors. Randell failed with the extras but all was to play for at 8-12 with 51 minutes gone.

But that would be as good as it got for the Herefordshire men. Further inaccuracies through loose passes and lost lineouts never allowed sustained pressure to be applied, and as the game wore on into the final quarter it looked like Dings would be the only winner.

Thomas Hargan sealed the points for the visitors on 67 minutes as he collected another excellent chip over the defence to score in the corner and despite Worsley missing from the tee once more, the Bristol-based side held on comfortably in the final throws for a hard-earned 8-17 result.

Lucs will be desperately disappointed with their own display, coming up with so many errors whilst dominating territory for long periods created a tight game, and then Dings showed their class in finishing the two real opportunities they created, whilst making the most of that interception that spun the game at the start of the second period.

The Herefordshire men still stay top of the pile after this result, and do have their destiny in their own hands, but they will know now that any slip up will likely be punished by a Dings Crusaders outfit that are unbeaten in their last 15 fixtures.

Luctonians Man of the Match
Harry Whiteman


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This page Picture Credit – Nigel Mee

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