THE LONG BREAK DIDN’T HELP AT LEWES
With the previous weeks home fixture postponed due to the weather this was the Lions first game of 2014 with their last match played on 14/12/13.
The Lions team left Deal very early on Saturday morning on the long trip to Lewes, Sussex, on a sunny day and in the hope that the Home pitch would be playable after the dreadful previous weather. The Team, already weakened by long-term injuries to key players, was further handicapped by illness and work commitments to two important forward players. The ground at Lewes is very low-lying and subject to water damage in the recent poor weather, which was to prove difficult for both sides in the shaded areas.
Lewes started the game well and their pack, having been recently strengthened by returning players, gave their strong backs some good, quick ball. The Lions struggled in the early stages and the Home backs attacked hard. There was some poor passing by the Lions backs and many mistakes were made . The lack of a game for 4 weeks , due to poor weather and the holidays, was showing and the rucking and retention of the ball was poor . Ollie Schofield was having his first game at scrum-half for 2 years, having just recovered from surgery and his ‘rustiness’ showed in the first quarter of the game .
The Lions were given a penalty in front of the posts , which should have been converted but
failed .This was a pity as the points would have steadied the Team .
Lewes then attacked through their backs and crossed for a try by McGlyn . This was converted .
Then the good Lewes fly-half kicked a penalty, which was quickly followed by another try, which was again converted .
The Lions started to settle-down and the pack started to gain some ascendancy over the Home side and their front row were being tested in the set scrums . Schofield started to get used to his role again and made some good runs and distributed the ball better . The pack continued to contest well, but another penalty allowed the Lewes kicker to extend the lead . The score at half-time was 17 to nil for the Home side.
Playing with the sun at their backs, the Lewes backs again ran hard at the Lions defence, which held well and Adam Michael made a good break and passed to Carl Thatcher on the left wing, who ran swiftly for 35 yards to score a good try. This was converted by Connor Moss with a good kick.
The Lions, now playing with more confidence broke forward and the props, McGrath and Hanley, passing well in support of a break by Luke Armstrong, put pressure on Lewes. A good period of play near the Home line and swift passing to the left allowed Thatcher to score a good second try.
However, Lewes came back and when Armstrong was down with an injury, outnumbered the defence on the left wing and scored a try , which was converted with an excellent kick .
The Lions countered again and the ball was moved to each flank. Eventually, Michael broke through again and passed to Gavin Elsom in support, who ran 25 yards for a good try . Unfortunately the conversion missed .
In summary, after a poor and ‘rusty’ start the Lions recovered to challenge the Lewes side, who are always difficult to beat on their own ground. The failure to kick 3 easy penalties and a conversion was disappointing . Those points would have made the difference .
Reporter David Storrie