Last season, winning Middlesex Merit table six and having been promoted to League four (it’s the fifth league but the RFU call it the fourth), Whitton Lions started preseason against local rivals and Division three heavyweights Thamesians Spartans.
James Bowman led a slightly unfamiliar looking side with help from Fill Your Boots and some other rugby contacts, Lions kicked off and Thamesians started to attack down field. After fierce opening exchanges Thamesians backline broke through down the right wing and touched down in the corner, Thamesians Spartans 5-0 Lions.
After this score Lions started to gain a foothold in the match, stealing the ball against a much heavier pack in the scrum and this near dominance would continue for most of the match. Gaining field position the Lions pack guided by Fitzy and James picked up from the base of a series of rucks and made their way into Spartans twenty two. James darted through Thamesians defence to score under the posts with Ryan adding the extras - Thamesians Spartans 5-7 Lions.
Thamesians scored again soon after to make the score at halftime 12-7.
Thamesians started strongly in the second half making the score 17-7 and it looked like, as predicted pre game, Thamesians would pull away. However Lions rallied again with great interplay between forwards and backs and Flanker Ben crashed over and Ryan converted, Thamesians Spartans 17-14 Lions.
In a game that saw the lead change hands multiple times, Thamesians brought the score to 24-14 and it looked like the game was out of the Lions grasp, que the arrival of Jon Bird.
Jon made a huge impact stealing lineout ball and sparking a Lions fightback with a charge down from a Thamesians clearance kick with Larry pouncing on the ball and diving over the line, Ryan making the conversion from the touchline Thamesians Spartans 24-21 Lions.
In the last fifteen minutes Lions worked hard to grab a spectacular victory they could now sense on the cards. Lions threw everything at the Thamesians defence and James chipped over the top to beat everyone including the chasing Adam, seeing the ball bobble over the dead ball line. With five minutes to go and Lions deep in Thamesians territory Graeme passed the ball to James who dived over the try line, Thamesians Spartans 24-28 Ryan maintains his hundred percent conversion rate.
Thamesians kicked off and regained the ball applying concerted pressure on the Lion’s line keeping the ball for multiple phases and Lions repelled each attack. It looked like Thamesians had won the game breaking through on the left wing, though the referee deemed the ball to have been knocked on and Lions, had won this intense pre-season battle.
Tries: James (2), Ben, Larry
Conversions Ryan 4/4
1 Larry 2 Jim 3 Graeme
4 Tom 5 Zak
6 Ben 7 Ryan 8 Wayne
9 Fitzy 10 James Bowman
12 Kiran 13 Adam
11 Angert 14 Andy 15 Ben Elison
16 Harry 17 Jon 18 James 19 Dan
Man of the Match was Ryan for his excellent kicking performance and great crash ball runs.