19 Outing, 19 WinsSat 28 Jan
In round 14 of league action, next up we welcomed Nuneaton Old Ed’s to Webb Ellis Road, writes Player Coach Rob Dignum. On our October visit to the land of yesteryears haircut, Nuneaton, we came away with a 3-63 victory; as with likely all the return fixtures, this score line would once again bear no relevance on the outcome of this one. Another proud side hell bent on ruining our run during this glorious season to date.
Amidst a midweek radio interview leading into the tie, the presenter naively queried, “You’re unbeaten, they’re second from bottom…easy win?” As we all know, sport, indeed life does not work like this, you get complacent you come unstuck; in turn, get all smug… and you will incur the wrath of Coach Addleton. I often get a bit flustered live on air; I am often teaching on the school field and I am not able to multitask, therefore I usually come out with a load of gobbledygook; on this occasion, no different. “Uh, well, uuummm… well not really, as in my experience, the moment you look too far in front of yourself at the horizon; you become oblivious to the bloke that’s stood right in front of you just waiting to kick you in the balls.” I knew what I meant and I think he understood the message, between nervous coughs. With that imagery set, Nuneaton were the proverbial men stood immediately in our way, with their foot in the air ready to do damage.
Respectful of our opposition, the tie offered the opportunity to rest some personnel as being in a cup run alongside 22 league games leaves little time for recuperation and niggles to subside; many in the squad have played a lot of rugby since August. Tansley and Paxton were rested and in turn the world’s heaviest bench was assembled in Parkinson, Herrington and Dignum; there were starts therefore awarded to Higgs, Gonsalves, James and new arrival Lee.
In squally conditions, Lions kicked off playing with a strong breeze at our backs. Déjà vu, it was the home side hot on the attack with a large possession and territorial advantage, but prone to our recurring theme of wrong options and/or final passes not quite sticking meant the scoreboard remained untroubled for large parts. Higgins opened the scoring on eight minutes converting a simple three points from in front and skipper Wood extended the lead diving over with quarter of an hour played. Lions lost hooker Gurling to injury and were forced into a bit of a reshuffle in the pack that was always going to be difficult against a determined opposition.
Former teammate and ex-student Shorty, who enjoyed a strong game opened Nuns scoring on 25 minutes hitting a well struck penalty. Lions were quick to reply with Attenborough crossing in the corner for a simple run in after rare uncomplicated hands to exploit a stretched defence. Wood crossed for his second and Lions third try on the stroke of half time for a deserved, albeit somewhat unconvincing 18-3 lead.
Nuns, now with a growing gale behind them crossed early in the second half for a deserved try by Singh to set up a rather uneventful 18-10 scoreline that lasted for the majority of the second forty, as Nuns continued to play as if their lives depended on it and Lions struggled to make inroads into resolute defence.
Tucker and Lee both hobbled from the field and nothing of any real note materialized until on the stroke of full time, Ford was the recipient of good phase play and a whopping great overlap, crossing for the try bonus and a full time score of, Lions 23-10 Old Ed’s.
To many this was not one for the purists, but that would be doing Nuns a disservice who were gritty throughout. That said, another five league points secured and job done.
This week we have a rare free weekend, probably just as well seen as what is looming around the corner:
Feb 11th: Pinley (A), see Rocky IV - Moscow (A), not dissimilar
Feb 18th: Spartans (A), 100% home record
Mar 4th: Silhillians (H), 2nd in the league
Mar 11th: Southam (A), tough place to win
Mar 18th: Silhillians (A), Midlands Cup Final
Remember the radio presenter from earlier warbling? He also asked, “Can you go the whole season unbeaten?” It is as if he wanted me to make a plonker of myself, this I need no help in doing. “Maybe, who knows,” I answered convincingly! In all seriousness however, those five challenges listed above, that is a big, big ask. On the grapevine, should we be successful on March 18th we can look forward to potentially Aspatria (A) in the National semi final… never heard of it? That is because it is a 500mile round trip to the Scottish border and a ground I have never won at in many attempts. When Benjamin Franklin decreed honesty to be the best policy, he likely would not be as anxious as I am now in announcing that despite our greatest efforts, we will do very, very well to go unbeaten this season.