Report submitted by Stourbridge RFC

The Lions took on local rivals Old Hales in their first Friday night home fixture of the season and ran out worthy winners courtesy of a tenacious defence and two fine tries, one a 60 metre dash from George Tildesley.

This was a team performance but mention must be made of Matt Perks in an all action display and the contribution of two of the Morgan brothers, Freddie and Arthur.

The game was punctuated by a number of yellow cards, three coming for each side. It also featured two female touch-judges for the first time at Stourton Park.

The game started with the Lions on the attack and, with a penalty beckoning, Elliott Murphy dropped a goal on five minutes, only for the Lions to transgress 10 minutes later and concede a penalty for three all.

The rest of the half was nip and tuck, with pressure exerted by both attacks but defences generally holding out. The Lions pack maintained parity at scrum and lineout and, even with the recent departure of Rich Pennock for pastures new, were competitive at the breakdown.

The difference came just before the end of the first half, with the Lions’ extra pace out wide showing up.

A mistake by the visiting attack wide left between halfway and the home 22 saw George Tildesley grab the loose ball and engage the afterburners in a dash to the line with Old Hales players running through treacle in his wake. The conversion by Murphy gave the Lions a 10-3 half-time lead.

The home side knew that there would be huge pressure from Old Hales early in the second half, so they put on pressure of their own from the off, driving the away outfit back in a series of attacks. After six minutes a lineout on the Lions right saw a series of drives into the away 22 and hooker Samuels broke away from the last ruck and shot for the line for the Lions’ second try.

Murphy’s conversion put the Lions up to a strong position at 17-3.

All credit to Old Hales; they came back with renewed vigour and, helped by two Lions being in the sin-bin, scored their only converted try, almost at what the home fans thought was the death.

Not in the least, the referee added a further none minutes and, even with a Murphy penalty with four minutes left to pull out to 20-10, it was a nervy and frenetic finish.

A penalty miss from Old Hales to miss the losing bonus point and then it was all over, a fine home win to put the Lions into double points figures after sox games.

This was a fine victory against opponents who were a league above less than two seasons ago.

There will be more tough games before and after Christmas, but the pack looked more competitive than at any time over the last three seasons and the backs combined steel in defence with deftness in attack.