Lions 49 Dunlop 14

Webb Ellis Road is steeped in history and tradition, a somewhat chequered past that has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Happily, last Saturday was very much an up, a wonderful day for all in attendance, writes player coach Rob Dignum.

Lions rise in its more recent times has been nothing short of mesmeric both on and off the field. Saturday saw the fielding of two senior sides for the first time in almost three years, no mean feat considering everything that has gone before. Lions coaching staff had worked tirelessly to ensure that the Development team was up and running, this made all the more tough with seventeen players still unavailable for selection. The Development faced Dunlop 2nd XV, a typically tough and uncompromising Coventry side that had already played two fixtures. The side was led out by Jim Gurling who was exemplary in his leadership amidst a side that had played little rugby together as a team prior to the weekend. To a man the side were fantastic and should all be really proud of their efforts against strong opposition. Lions raced into an early lead courtesy of National sprinter Ciaran Wardle who will no doubt feature heavily for Lions this season. The game ebbed and flowed as both sides took turns to run in scores. For the large part of the game the scores were locked at 12-12 until Dunlop scored late on to take the spoils 12-19. The result was largely inconsequential with Lions faithful ecstatic at seeing two sides take the field once again. Special mention should go to Leslie James, Karl Izzard and Karl Chopski who all had an industrious day!

Then to the main game, Lions versus Dunlop. Last season Dunlop played their league rugby in Midlands 2, some three leagues higher than Lions and had won the Senior Cup at Twickenham in 2010, they were going to be a handful. At the end of last season, with Dunlop relegated and Lions promoted it meant that the sides were just one league apart, an opportunity to see how far they had come in a short space of time. During Lions successful 2013-14 campaign, the squad swept all before them: teams from Midlands 5, 4 and even the odd Midlands 2 side; Midlands 3 opposition however presented a fresh challenge; one that many in the management were fretful of if honest. The Lions raced into an early lead scoring their first try after just two minutes and scores were quickly added as Lions took charge going in at half time having scored four tries to lead 28-5. Dunlop were shocked, this was not quite in their plan as Lions forwards took charge and the backline ran amok. Lions scored a further three tries in the second period to Dunlop’s one to run out emphatic winners 49-12. In truth, further tries went begging and the score could have been more; if anyone would have offered us a fifty point victory at the breakfast table on Saturday however, we would likely have snapped their hand off. Management, Coaching staff and most importantly all the players however realise that this was nothing to get too carried away about, that feet must stay firmly on the ground and that each week is all part of an ongoing learning experience as the side grow in ability and confidence.

Next up St Andrews in the Cup

I strongly believe that last Saturday’s fine display will likely have absolutely no bearing whatsoever as Lions look forward to their next fixture however. Against Dunlop, we were the underdogs, at home and were somewhat the surprise package as Dunlop assumed victory. Away from home, against a buoyant St Andrews, hell bent on getting one up on their neighbours in the quarter final of the Warwickshire Shield will be a different beast altogether. Andrews are a good side that are getting stronger from one season to the next and do not really need any motivation to turn over The Lions. They provided a hatful of players to the District side that were victorious at the end of last season; I expect it to be the toughest opposition I have faced in a Lions jersey to date. If we are going to be successful all support will likely be needed on Ashlawn Road at 3pm on Saturday. Failing that, come and cheer The Lions Development on who welcome Syston to Webb Ellis Road, again 3pm kick off… Happy times!          

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