6 tries, back-to-back wins, one glorious evening. Birmingham Lions 1sts record their biggest victory of the season against Durham 2s.
The game kicked off at 5 o’clock with a dark winter night back drop and with mild temperatures and little wind to even mention. The Lions were coming into this fixture hoping to build on last week’s win over Bishop Burton, whilst Durham were hoping to bounce back after a defeat to Nottingham 1sts.
The first half was the most frantic half of rugby I had seen for a long time with Birmingham putting on early pressure against Durham, fly-half James Chaumenton missing an opportunist drop goal. Minutes later the first try of the match was scored but it was by the visitors. After a pass that the receiver was too far away from, Durham’s winger intercepted the pass and cantered 80 meters to score the opening try and the conversion was successful. Making the score Lions 0 – Durham 7.
Entering into the second quarter of the match, Birmingham hit back with a score with centre Hakimian on the end of some lovely passing from the backs. The Lions squandered another chance to score a try. However at the second time asking they were able to score it with Craig Bonnar the full-back the scorer. The conversion was un-successful, the score now Lions 12 – Durham 7.
Durham regained possession and after spotting gaps in the Birmingham backline, the scrum-half was able to get across for the score after feeding off the mistakes from the Lions. Lions 12 – Durham 14.
The Lions then built good phases together and looked to have scored but unfortunately Hakimian dropped the ball over the whitewash. No matter, Birmingham were awarded a penalty and from the driving line out hooker Callum Grant emerged as the triumphant try scorer. Chaumenton was successful with the conversion from way out and the Lions regained the lead.
The Lions looked to be heading into the interval with the lead but they couldn’t hold it out. Some sloppy passing and a knock-on allowed the same Durham’s winger to pounce and sprint only 50 meters this time to score in the far corner. The conversion was unsuccessful and the half time score was 19 all.
It could have gone either way for both sides but for Birmingham it was a similar performance to the second half they play against Bishop Burton; totally dominating the second half.
After some good play by both sides, the Lions N.8, Will Onslow, did a little grubber kick through and Craig Bonnar was able to bag his brace of tries for the evening, picking up his side’s four-point bonus point in the process. The conversion from wide out was un-successful by Chaumenton making the score Lions 24 – Durham 19.
Minutes later, Durham fell on the wrong side of the referee again conceding another penalty. Chaumenton from 35 meters out kicked the penalty successfully to give the Lions that crucial 8 point lead. Durham seemed to come alive again and after some good pressure they were awarded a penalty, which their fly-half converted to bring the score back to a 5 point game now. Lions 27 – Durham 22.
The Lions then Finished the final quarter with another two tries, one from Harry Stephenson, and another from a driving maul as Durham conceaded many penalties. Chaumenton was successful with one of the conversions and the final score was Lions 39 – Durham 22.
Birmingham will be happy that all of their tries came from good play with some nice handling from the backs and good forward power. They seemed to boss Durham at the break down and the tackling for the majority was very good. However they still need to work on their defensive patterns ever so slightly, to leave as little gaps as possible. The Lions also need to apply the pressure from minute 1 rather than minute 20 as happened in this match. Craig Bonnar, Birmingham’s full-back got Man of the Match with some lovely running and scoring a couple of tries to boot.
Lots of positive play, which will be all important to bring into next week’s match against Nottingham 1sts (6pm Kick off Bournbrook Pitches).