Sat 20 Jan

Rugby Lions made the trip up the M6 to play Stoke for the first time at their Hartwell Lane ground. Lion's injury list is not getting any shorter with John Hemsley, Demetrius Gonsalves and Adam Attenborough picking up injuries in last week's match. Aidan Parkinson made a welcome return at prop with James Pearson starting in the second row and Paul Fowkes continuing at hooker.

In dank and freezing conditions, and with both teams wearing very similar colours which made player identification extremely difficult, Lions were first out of the blocks with the excellent Alex Tansley making ground from a lineout. Several more drives got play to the shadow of the posts until the ball was spilled and the danger cleared. When Stoke finally got out of their half, a loose clearance kick by Rugby gave possession away and the home side were awarded a penalty try when a Lions player was deemed to have obstructed a player following a chip ahead.

Lions hit back straight away with more strong forward drives leading to James Pearson crashing over the line. Dave Weston converted to tie the score at 7-7.

Stoke responded with some pressure of their own and some familiar weak tackling allowed another converted try to put the home side ahead 14-7 at half time.

Lions had the slope in their favour in the second half and play was totally confined to the Stoke half, but slow ball and poor handling thwarted their efforts. It was at this stage where the Lion's forwards gained the upper hand in the set scrum and were pushing the home pack backwards at a great rate of knots.

Luckily for the home side, injuries to two front row players meant that scrums became uncontested and Lion's huge advantage was nullified. Several flare-ups were occurring amongst the forwards and finally the referee's patience ran out and Tansley and the Stoke number 6 were shown a yellow card.

Stoke finally got out of their own half and showed the Lions how to finish, scoring an unconverted try totally against the run of play. With time almost up Sam Herrington's frustration got the better of him and he was given a straight red card for use of the shoulder in clearing out a player in a ruck.

Lions can count themselves very unfortunate to come away from this match with nothing, but Stoke made their chances count and Rugby squandered most of theirs.


Next week sees the Lions host Stourbridge Lions, 2.15pm kick-off.

Final score:-   Stoke 19  Rugby Lions 7

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