The Lions travelled to Birkenhead on Saturday in an attempt to obtain another win and continue their good league form. The conditions were again ideal for rugby and it was clear from the mood in the changing rooms prior to kick off that Birkenhead would be in for a tough afternoon. The first two league games had seen the Lions play some good rugby but take their foot off the gas once the game was won, they knew it would be important to play for the full 80 minutes this week.
The game started well for Birkenhead, who were clearly pumped up for the game, from the first whistle they put the Lions under pressure and were playing at a good pace. Before the Lions could even obtain possession of the ball Birkenhead had gone over in the corner and the Lions quickly realised that the afternoon wasn’t going to be easy. The score gave Birkenhead confidence and the first half was to be a tough arm wrestle for the Lions forwards, their game plan of moving the ball to the outside channel was made difficult. However, once the Lions managed to move the ball wide they cut through the opposition back line with significant ease, as soon as the ball hit Longmore at 13 he was supported well by Hardwick, King and Baxter and Birkenheads defence was easily breached. It was not long before the Lions went over for a score, from a scrum deep inside their 22 the Lions used a simple miss move to the 13 channel and King cut a great line off Longmore, he then showed fantastic pace to run the length of the pitch and score.
The Macclesfield forwards at times were providing scrum half Walker with some good ball and his consistent service to Roberts was putting the Lions on the front foot. The Lions have seen some good referring during the first two games, however the game was being stopped every two minutes for some extremely questionable penalties, the majority going against the Lions and the game was unable to flow. Before the half time whistle the Lions had managed another two tries, one from Baxter who was more than taking his opportunity and another from the flying King who hit another good line to finish well in the corner. The half time score was 8-15 in favour of the Lions.
The Lions had the advantage of the slight breeze and slight hill in the second half. It started well and Macclesfield were camped in the Birkenhead 22, they came close to scoring several times, the pressure ultimately resulted in a penalty for the Lions and 3 points. To their credit Birkenhead did not lie down and continued to make it difficult for the Lions to play but the Lions soon moved away and went over for another try. The last 20 minutes saw a few changes for the Lions, Taylor returned from injury to make an appearance and it wasn’t long before both front rows started to exchange handbags, surely nothing to do with Taylor…. he did however stabilize the scrum. The game ended poorly with Moss seeing a yellow card, the 5th in 3 weeks for the Lions and another poor one at that, the amount of penalties that the game was seeing was quite absurd. Macclesfield added another try and conversion and the game finished 30 points to 20 in favour of the Lions.
The Lions had made a few forced changes from the previous week but the team is starting to take some shape and players are now much more used to one another. It was fantastic to see the prodigy Curtis grace the field yet again, Lacey and Smith worked very well together in the second row, Thorpe had yet another good game and Clowes is more than settling in at no8 but the forwards were shown the level and intensity required by Moss who was relieved from 1st team duty for a week. The backs predominately played well and there were standout performances from Baxter and King, Baxter more than took his opportunity and proved that he is one to keep an eye on. With the Blues going down reasonably heavily at home to Ealing the Lions may see even further changes next week but it is important that they support the Blues during the week in the build up to an important Saturday for the club as the Lions face Preston at home and the Blues travel to Cinderford.
Man of the Match: George Baxter
Team: Poyser, Moss, Curtis, Smith, Lacey, Thorpe, Taylor J, Clowes, Walker, Roberts (capt), Board, Longmore, Hardwick, Baxter, King.
Reserves: Taylor I, Jewars, Macey
Next week the Lions entertain Preston at 3pm, Priory Park