13th Dec, 2019

Lions impress new president Liz Webster Kelsey

Stratford Editorial 27th Nov, 2019 Updated: 27th Nov, 2019

Claverdon 40 Harbury 0

Midlands Four West (South)

A 100-PLUS vice-presidents crowd watched as the Lions put long-standing rivals Harbury to the sword.

Before kick-off, a minute’s silence was held for Roy Gardner – a long-serving member of Claverdon – and the hosts did him proud as they moved into fourth place.

On a wet and muddy pitch, the match featured a high number of scrums. The first went to Harbury but the Claverdon front row of Chris Glover, Steve Grimsley and Tom Hudson applied the pressure and in return won the penalty.

The resulting penalty was kicked into the corner and Grimsley found Ben Webster. It was Claverdon’s turn to set their platform and, after a strong drive and several picks around the ruck, Ed Smith barged his was over the line for a 7-0 lead.

Instructions from the captain to the Lions from the restart were to tidy up and clear out of their half. In doing so the chase from the kick was textbook and Claverdon were able to turn the ball over centre-field.

Hard running from Nick Green put the Lions on the front foot and quick thinking from Jack Johnson saw the scrum half break blind. A pop to James Barton put the number 8 on the canter and, with a simple pass to James Gibney, a try was on the cards.

However, the pass was deemed forward and the Lions were brought back for a scrum.

After more defensive pressure, Claverdon once again found themselves in the Harbury half due to another penalty kicked into the corner. Grimsley found Barton at the top of the lineout and they trundled on.

Just like the first try, several picks finally ended with Hudson carrying two defenders over the line for a converted score.

Soon afterwards Matt Dunster was held up just short of the visitors’ try-line but the third Lions try did arrive when a dominant scrum resulted in Claverdon clawing the ball back against the head and Barton’s offload found Johnson who showed pace to finish in the corner.

The lead was up to 26-0 by half-time after quick, clear ball allowed Tommy Williams to feed James Kirby on a crashing line up the centre of the field. The ball was then put through several hands and eventually found Smith for his second try of the day.

Despite playing uphill in the second half, Harbury were much-improved and for 30 minutes piled on the pressure. Their forwards carried hard and offloaded well and, unlike the first half, Claverdon found themselves defending their try-line on several occasion.

However, solid defence across the team kept out the Harbury wave and the visitors remained scoreless.

The fresh legs of Alex Haynes and Adam Tanner caused chaos in the forwards as the Lions pair carried hard around the park and the hosts’ fifth try came from another cutting line from Dunster which put Clav just outside the Harbury 22.

With no full-back in sight, Williams called for the box from Johnson. With a perfect bounce, the ball fell into his arms and he finished off diving over the line.

The scoring was completed when Claverdon turned over a scrum and Barton picked and popped to Johnson who faded wide and a simple switch with Williams saw him through a big gap in the defence.

Following the conversion the whistle blew, to which Liz’s VPs erupted. This was a fantastic win and performance in the president’s first game in charge.

The Lions return to league action at Kings Norton on December 7. Report compiled by James Barton.

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