Lions 29-19 Wolverhampton
Despite a buzz around camp with the new coach on board, the Lions took a while to hit second gear in this game. Despite falling behind in the early exchanges the Lions regrouped around the half-time interval and thanks to tries from debutants Reynolds and Hill-Harding – sandwiching Masters’ ‘knockout’ try from a 5-metre line out – the team were soon back on the right track. Coming from behind to win wasn’t an ideal start but it showed great determination moving into the BUCS season. After the match the team stayed to cheer on the Lionesses’ first game together with the Lambrini flowing freely!
Lions’ Friday Night Success
Just before the season opener to Derby, a Friday night tournament was hosted at a local rugby club. Carrying on from the success earlier in the week, the Lions dominated much of the play on the night, finishing the tournament as unbeaten winners! No Lambrini this time?
Lions 5 – 95 Derby (A)
The team headed into the first BUCS game of the season in high spirits, although many of the senior players remembered the tough matches against Derby from the previous season, and with captain Walpole subbed at half time with a serious shoulder injury, an already under-strength Lions side limped home having learnt valuable lessons and determined to improve. Lambrini was drank in a somber mood.
Lions 14 – 41 Warwick (H)
The first home game of the season saw a much improved Lions side. Dominance in the set piece was squandered too easily, and with a suspiciously first-team looking centre capitalising on any errors made by the Lions. A very harsh loss on the team, many improvements made and a further understanding of the new system was developed but the elusive first win was still to come!
Lions 46 – 21 Worcester (A)
At a venue where Staffs hadn’t won in three years the Lions headed down the M6 fully aware of the challenge ahead. The new coach remained in Stoke to coach the Lionesses and so a point had to be made. Harvey scored within moments of kick off to ensure the perfect start, and the tries kept coming! Harvey rounded off his hat trick early into the second half after a concerted team effort to keep Worcester out. A lapse in concentration nearly undone all the hard work, but ultimately a late consolation try flattered Worcester.
Lions 0 – 64 University of Birmingham (H)
Plans to target a cup upset were hindered when we had an appalling level of sign ups for this match! (Who organised the game for reading week?) Nevertheless the plucky Lions struggled through against much superior opposition from two divisions above. A highlight of this match was the people’s champion Peterson making his long awaited debut. We can confirm the pregame pork pies did not help him on this occasion.
Lions v UCB (H)
Targeting the leagues whipping boys promised to be a tantalising pre-Christmas treat. Peterson’s pork pies were packed, the commentators and analysts were ready, the crowd was reaching fever pitch! But then UCB called off at the last minute. A waste of pork pies.
Lions 34 – 5 Wolverhampton (H) (Friendly)
Christmas came and went, the annual Christmas Day neck nomination was a success despite a few people complaining they’d just finished their dinner. Wolves fancied playing the reverse fixture, ready for another mauling (well I couldn’t avoid any lion pun) at the hands of the Lions. Set piece dominance paid off, and with Wolves struggling to find any rhythm the Lions roared (last one I promise) and their preparation for the remainder of the season was complete
Another Friday Night Success
Friday night tournaments were generally successful, from a drunken old boy running the length of the pitch to score to Frodo’s long awaited debut they were never short of entertainment or wins for the lads.
Lions 8 – 29 Derby (H)
Derby returned to Longton chasing promotion and only a bonus point win would do. Facing them was a Lions side with renewed vigour. The score at half time was 0-7, with only a rare error from the scrum half gifting Derby a try despite the Lions dominating large parts of the game. Ultimately the disciplined Derby side sealed the bonus point win, but with a much improved score and performance the lads were bouncing after this one.
Lions 16 – 26 Worcester (H)
Next to arrive was a Worcester team featuring only 7 players from the first game, yet no first teamers… controversy aside an unusually flat Lions side struggled against Worcester, with their pregame preparations hindered by the completion of paperwork – which Harvey still managed to complete wrong. Mostly unremarkable, although White did have his eye poked out by one of the most unfortunate looking props you’ll ever meet.
Lions 27 – 24 Warwick (A)
This game was something special, it had everything! Tries, injuries, the captain missing a tackle and almost blowing the match… In a frantic final 10 the lead flip-flopped, and a super conversion block from in front of the posts by Beech ensure that a late try was enough to secure a dramatic victory for the Lions – one which earned a nomination for performance of the year.
Lions 5 – 56 Aston (H)
The final BUCS game we played was an encounter against the league leaders. The lions failed to click on this occasion and an unremarkable Aston team romped home with the win.
Lions 89 – 0 Harper Adams (H)
After another UCB cancellation the decision was made to play against an unknown quantity in Harper Adams after deciding against travelling to Aston in preparation for Varsity. A game in which the Lions’ game plan clicked together and almost everyone had a chance to get on the scoresheet, and Cross felt so kind he dropped the ball over the line…
Lions 0 – 58 Keele
The build up to this one was interesting, the varsity kit arrived and everyone was thrilled. (Ignoring a few wrong sizes).
Varsity is always a tough test for the Lions, with Keele being a division above in a tougher region the difference between the two teams is easier to see some years than others. After last season’s performance the men’s team sought to stifle a Keele side which had attacking options all over the park. Ultimately a much more physical Keele pack and a 10 with more gas than Shell stole the show and as the clock ticked the hope of a win faded.
It was a season of great development and improvement. Tough lessons were learned at times, but ultimately the team are working hard throughout summer to come back fitter and stronger and keep improving!
P. 12 W. 5 L. 7