Sat 17 Dec
In the last game of the year Lions made the short trip to Dunlop RFC to mark the halfway point of league fixtures, writes Player Coach Rob Dignum. Dunlop are a proud club having lifted the Junior Vase at Twickenham in 2010 and being a regular stronghold of Coventry Rugby for nearly a Century. Sadly, they have fallen on hard times of late, their Head Coach leaving and taking players midway through last season left those remaining with an uphill battle to keep everything ticking over. This they are doing admirably, a good bunch of blokes doing a fantastic job, I am certain they and the club will still be around for many years to come. By their own admission, this was going to be a tough one however, the league table does not lie; Lions played 10 won ten, Dunlop played 10 lost 10, on a date so close to Christmas we thank them for honouring the fixture and wish them the very best for the future.
Lions raced into an early lead, however were made to work for each score. The usual game plan of retaining possession and exhausting defences was laid out to good effect for a half time lead of Dunlop 5-38 Lions.
During the second forty, the bench was emptied for their turn at a tiring Dunlop defence. Tansley immediately made his presence felt with five tries in a half; Dunlop unable to halt a now brutally relentless Lions onslaught. To their credit they defended gallantly throughout, their full back will likely have ached Sunday morning for the number of last ditch tackles he was forced to make; Lions however cut loose for a final score of Dunlop 5-81 Lions.
Sharing festive beers and speaking to many of the Dunlop lads at the bar, there was a real sense of pride in the shift they had put in, they genuinely should be commended.
Rugby Lions: what a 2016! …unbeaten, top of the league, through to the Midlands semi final (Coalville at home, January 14th) and the County quarter final (Berkwell at home, date unknown), we really could not have dreamt of such a start. The test will be to continue to build on the good work put in by all in the squad. It is difficult to pinpoint where the success has come from but Aggy and I have spoke about how hard everyone worked during preseason, this likely laying the platform for potential success. Other strengths have been the pack, colossal all season; I would not want to play against them! Also, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the ‘Aggy effect’ …his no frills, hard working and straight talking approach has been infectious; it quite simply commands respect and has been a factor in our 15 wins in 15 outings. I spoke of potential success, well… because we have not won anything. 2017 will no doubt be yet tougher again; many tricky away fixtures and every opposition hell bent on turning us over.
A heads up to all players, rather than resting on our laurels and patting ourselves on the back, there are going to be some old school back to basics in the New Year that will be geared around hard work, on and off the field. We are very fortunate to again be back to full strength in January with half a dozen long term injuries all returning to action; selection will likely be fierce, across the board.
This, my fourth season as a Lion has without doubt been the most wonderful; we really are riding the crest of a wave. This we are desperate to continue into 2017 and our next outing, January 7th, Leamington at home.
To all at Lions that contribute positively to the renaissance of this proud club and to those associated; from all in the squad, thank you for your continued support, we wish you a very Happy Christmas, a wonderful New Year and look forward to seeing you soon.