Another Jekyll and Hyde performance from Hereford in the fog at Lichfield.
In defence they were excellent all through. However their attacking potential was only apparent on occasions. It was often spoilt by poor decision making and simple errors. Twenty minutes of cut and thrust play ended with Lichfield taking a short-lived lead with an unconverted try. Hereford responded with a try and the conversion gave them a narrow lead for the first and only time in the game. Lichfield countered with a penalty and a converted try which gave them an interval lead of 15 points to 7.
The Wyesiders spent the first thirty minutes of the second half defending determinedly. Despite them losing two players to the bin, it was Lichfield who increased their lead with a converted try. This seemed to galvanise the Hereford attacking efforts and some good handling put pressure on Lichfield. Already into injury time Hereford added a converted try and straight from the restart drove into the Lichfield 22. With the referee having indicated a last play Hereford were awarded a penalty, they kicked for goal in an attempt to rescue a losing bonus point. However the kick drifted wide and Hereford were left with no reward from their final heroic efforts.
Disappointed coach, Luke Fisher said,
“It was always going to be a good battle, one team with the best attacking record and the other with the best defence. We put pressure on Lichfield, but made a few lineout errors, which in turn put us under pressure and cost us a try. Credit to the boys they came back straight away and some slick hands in the backs set up our first try. Then we went off the boil, put ourselves under pressure and mistakes that had not been there for the last couple of weeks, crept back into our game. These were capitalised upon by a very good Lichfield attack. We scored an excellent try towards the end and for the last ten minutes we maintained positive pressure. It’s a shame that the boys came away from the game with nothing.”
Play during the first 20 minutes was even with Lichfield having the better of field position.
But with limited possession, the Hereford backs looked dangerous. After 18 minutes an attempted off-load inside the Hereford 22 allowed the ball to be intercepted by Lichfield. The ball was shipped out to the left winger who had a clear run in to the corner. The try went unconverted to give the home team a five-point lead. Hereford responded well. A high kick ahead was followed up and collected by Levi Hughes, under pressure from his opposite number. The ball was moved cross field to Tom Ewins who slipped the ball to Tom Starkey. Starkey set off on a run, beating the first defender then cutting in and beating the cover defence to score under the posts. Freddie Spencer added the extra points giving Hereford a narrow two-point lead.
A high tackle by Matt Hill earned him a yellow card. From the penalty Lichfield regained the lead. A quick tap penalty caught Hereford out and a good break saw Lichfield register their second try. The conversion was good and Lichfield increased their lead to 15 points to 7, a lead which they took into the interval.
Half time: Lichfield 15 – 7 Hereford RFC
In the early part of the second half Lichfield put the visitors’ defence under siege and it took all the Hereford defensive resilience to hold out during a 5-minute period of constant intense pressure. Lichfield gathered a couple of yellow cards in the space of 2 minutes and it seemed that Hereford might now have an advantage, but it was the home team playing with 13 men who added to their lead with a converted try. This set back seemed to give Hereford added energy and they put Lichfield under more pressure than at any other time in the match.
They reduced the deficit with a try in injury time. Levi Hughes gathered a cross kick, made ground up the wing, cut inside and off-loaded in the tackle to Leon Parsons, who touched down under the posts. Freddie Spencer completed the conversion to take the score to 22 points to 14, still short of even a losing bonus. Referee Marc Hurn, indicated “last play” and when Hereford were awarded a penalty, they decided to go for goal to get the losing bonus. Unfortunately, Jimmie Evans’ kick from a difficult angle drifted just wide and Hereford had no reward from their totally whole-hearted effort.
Hereford did not get the reward their efforts deserved
They should rue a number of poor decisions and the number of unforced errors that littered the first half in particular. They can take comfort in the knowledge that they will play worse and win, but should look back on this game and wonder what might have been. Next week they take on Stoke, hopefully at Wyeside and will have the chance to put this game behind them.