National League 2 North:
Dudley Kingswinford: Ryan Smitherman; Liam Marshall; Harry Bayliss; Greg Lewis; James Jefferson; Gareth Bown; Jordan Brookes; Rich Kelley; Luke Greenwood; Steve Blackburn; Ed Parry; Nick Murphy; Pete Knight; Sam Pedley; John Tideswell; Replacements: Dan Blake; Al Francis; Matt Perks; Connah Jones; Duncan Tomkins
This young Dudley Kingswinford team will be on a rapid learning curve into the new season with the club once again having to rebuild following major changes to the team during the summer with a number of departures and retirements from last season. On the evidence of the opening fixture of the season there is plenty to be optimistic about despite the fact that the result didn't go in the favour of the visitors.
There were no less than three of the back line under the age of 20 (Harry Bayliss; Ryan Smitherman; Duncan Tomkins) with three of them making their first team debut. All of them equipped themselves very well in their first experience of National League Rugby. This was a committed performance from the whole team with the experienced heads in the forwards Jon Tideswell and Pete Knight leading from the front ably supported by Ed Parry Nick Murphy and Sam Pedley, In the front row Luke Greenwood was like a dervish imp covering every blade of grass with his front row colleagues Rich Kelley and Steve Blackburn doing their bit too. In the backs Jordan Brookes showed his experience probing and kicking to constantly turn the Lions and keep their defence guessing. Gareth Bown led the line well and his new centre paining of 17 year old Harry Bayliss and Greg Lewis came to terms quickly with the pace of the game. Wings Liam Marshall and James Jefferson worked hard all afternoon and young full back Ryan Smitherman.
The first 20 minutes quite evenly contested and DK started well but the Lions fought their way back into the game and went ahead with two penalties in quick succession by their full back Jon Boden following DK infringements at the breakdown.
DK then come back into the game and eventually awarded a penalty themselves in front of the posts following some sustained pressure on the home line and good work by by Gareth Brown who slotted over the penalty. At this stage DK had the bit between their teeth and following a penalty lineout the ball was moved infield and a great offload by Bown saw young centre Harry Bayliss force his way over for a try by the posts on his first team debut. Gareth Bown added the extras.
More pressure on the home side line saw another penalty awarded and on this occasion Bown's attempt sailed just wide of the posts. This let off spurred the Lions on and they started to exert more pressure on the visitors whose defence held solid. However the hosts won a succession of quick rucks following a lineout in the DK 22 and their centre Steve Cross powered his way over close to the posts and full back Jon Boden added the extras.
On the stroke of half time DK flanker Sam Pedley was yellow carded following an altercation on the touchline.
Half Time Leicester Lions 13 Dudley Kingswinford 10.
With only 14 men DK started the second half stronger and their efforts were rewarded when they were awarded a penalty 35 metres out which Gareth Bown landed to bring the scores level. This was the signal to the home side to step up the pressure on DK and were awarded two penalties following infringements at the breakdown which full back Jon landed to increase the home side’s lead.
This young DK side were not prepared to lie down and continued to pressure the home side’s line but could not find a way to breach the defence. Eventually Dudley spilt the ball which allowed the Lions to relieve the pressure by breaking out of the on 22. A further penalty by the hosts increased their lead to 19 -13 before Gareth Bown reduced the arrears with another fine struck kick.
DK rang the changes following a number of injuries with Al Francis coming on for Rich Kelley; Dan Blake for Steve Blackburn in the front row and Matt Perks coming on for the injured Pedley. Jordan Brookes was replaced by Connah Jones at scrum half and Duncan Tomkins came on as replacement for the injured Ryan Smitherman. The changes seemed to disrupt the visitors and allowed the hosts to gain territorial advantage and another penalty increased their lead to six points.
As the game entered stoppage time Lions pressed the DK line and were eventually rewarded with a fine try scored by their outside centre Alfie Malloy which was converted by full back Jon Boden ran and kicked intelligently until injurey cut short his game late in the second half
Final Score Leicester Lions 29 Dudley Kingswinford 16