RUGBY UNION - Saints tame Lions to triumph in local derby - The Rugby Observer

RUGBY UNION - Saints tame Lions to triumph in local derby

Rugby Editorial 9th Jan, 2024 Updated: 9th Jan, 2024   0

RUGBY St Andrews extended their winning run to nine matches with a hard-fought 17-13 victory against local rivals Rugby Lions.

Tries from Chris Heslop, Steve Young and Jack Kettleborough helped Saints maintain their perfect start to the season despite late pressure from Lions at Webb Ellis Road.

And the result means Saints remain eight points clear at the top of the Counties 3 Midlands East (South) table with Lions two places below them in third.

Lions started the brighter of the two teams and put Saints under pressure from the first whistle as the visitors made some big tackles and crucial turnovers to keep the match scoreless.

Saints built their way into the game and scored the opening try on 16 minutes when hooker Heslop forced his way over the line after the visitors kicked a penalty to touch and won the ball at the lineout.

However, the conversion attempt came back off the upright as Lions reduced the deficit with a penalty on the half-hour mark.

Saints stretched their lead on the stroke of half time as Young powered over from close range following several phases and Chris Halcrow kicked the conversion.

And the league leaders extended their advantage with 15 minutes left to play when Kettleborough reacted quickest to a loose ball after Saints failed to find touch with a penalty.

However, after Lions were unable to gather the ball, Kettleborough kicked ahead and won the chase to touch down in the corner to give Saints a crucial two-score cushion.

Lions responded by pinning Saints in their own half while the visitors lost a player to the sin bin after conceding a number of penalties in quick succession.

And Lions made the most of the man advantage to cross for a converted try before Saints lost another player to the sin bin to leave the league leaders down to 14-men for the final five minutes.

The home side kicked a penalty in the final couple of minutes to further reduce the deficit but were unable to strike again as Saints held on to claim the local bragging rights.

Saints are next in action at home to South Leicester at the Hillmorton Grounds while Lions are away at Rugby Welsh’s Alwyn Road ground with both games to kick-off at 2.15pm on Saturday, January 13.

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