The match kicked off at 3pm at the Bournbrook pitches with changing autumnal sunshine and cloud with a slight breeze, so good conditions for this rugby clash. This game was between Birmingham 1sts, coming in off the back of a defeat to Loughborough 2nds, and Newcastle 1sts who also were looking to bounce back after a defeat to Durham 2nds.
The game started with territory and possession to Birmingham, however, it was cut off with a knock on in Newcastle’s twenty-two. This gave Newcastle the chance to score a spectacular counter-attacking try with great running from their backs with the outside-centre Glover the try scorer. The Geordie’s Scrum-half Scott converted the try and Newcastle had the early lead of 7 points to 0.
However, as so often with rugby, Newcastle gave an excuse for their coach to pull hair from the top of his head; by giving away an easy penalty after the re-start for failing to release the ball. The Lions fly-half Chaumenton kicked the penalty successively and the home side were now only trailing by 4 points.
Birmingham seized the moment to continue the progress they were making by playing aggressive rugby in the opposition twenty-two. However, as luck would have it, Newcastle were able to capitalize on another counter-attacking opportunity and their left-hand side Winger Tisdace the scorer. Scott kicked the conversion, the visitors now leading by 14 points to 3 and all in the first quarter of the game.
At this point the Lions decided to get stuck in and really worked their way, this and that, trying to get an opportunity for a try to boost their moral and confidence. And after a period of time where possession swayed one-way to another, the Lions were able to produce a score. Chaumenton kicked a penalty to the corner allowing his forward to set up a devastating line out, which eventually led to the Second Row, Hayward, giving a nice little pop-pass to the number-eight, Fisher, who crashed over for a score. Chaumenton converted and the Lions were back within 4 points.
Birmingham through Chaumenton were able to get a quick successive penalty in front of the post and now the game was hanging on just one point. However, the backs of Newcastle shone through as having been awarded a penalty within their half, their backs carved up the Lions with special mentions for the Flyhalf Bowen Rees and the Outside Center, Glover and Tisdacr the eventual scorer.
This last passage of play brought the first half to a close with the score of Newcastle 21 Birmingham 13. Birmingham with territory just needed to be more clinical with the opposition twenty-two and to keep the ball better.
The Lions struck back ten minutes into the second half. Chaumenton kicked to the corner and the Newcastle fullback Low caught it, only to be dragged back over the try-line giving Birmingham the opportunity to attack with a scrum five meters out. Then with good carrying from the forwards Chaumenton threw a long pass and Amadi, the Right-hand Winger, caught it to score a little away from the posts. Chaumenton gave the Lions a lifeline with a successful conversion and the game was once more defined by a one point margin.
Newcastle came back at Birmingham and for a time the Lions were able to hold off the attack. However with good awareness and kicking to available space, the Winger Low ran with the ball within ten meters of the line before being tackled. Controversy then followed as there seemed to be a clear foot in touch that wasn’t see by the linesman (who was incidentally a Newcastle replacement); which questions the absence of assistant referees at this level. The aftermath of this was Newcastle from a scrum were able to score with their Number Eight Matanie. However the replacement Scrum-half, Nissin missed the conversion.
Now Birmingham deiced to go for it, knowing a converted try would win them the game. Newcastle were able to stand up to the task with an over-dominating success at a few scrums. However after one final attack, Newcastle stripped the ball and kicked it into touch. The final score, Newcastle 1sts 26 to Birmingham 1sts 20.
Birmingham will be disappointed to loose a third game on the bounce and to only have a couple of bonus points to show for all of their efforts so far. They will be pleased however with their control of the possession and territory for large period of the game. However the key detail they need to work on is to be more clinical and to play what is in front of them.