Southam homing in on the title after taming Lions

Southam stretched their unbeaten run to 17 games with a win at the home of rugby, moving top of the table on points difference from their hosts in the process.

Southam show their resolute defensive qualities on their way to a narrow win over Rugby Lions. Picture: Mike Baker

It was memorable days for the large away following who more than held their own against the Lions fans and, with four games remaining, Southam’s title hopes are very much in their own hands.

Southam dominated the first half with regular forays into the Lions 22 and a rock-solid defence that stopped the home side entering their red zone.

The first points came from the boot of fly-half Harry Hewson after the Lions were penalised for offside in the tenth minute.

Southam continued the pressure with a long Hewson cross-kick to touch inside the Rugby 22. The visitors spoiled the lineout and forced Lions back to touch down in the in-goal area and from the resulting five-metre scrum, veteran scrum-half Jay Ellerington bloke blind before Hewson put a grubber kick through for centre Tom Grimes to dot down.

Hewson converted for a 
10-0 interval lead.

The second half continued in the same vein for Southam with winger Nathan Hooker collecting a kick just outside his own 22 and sending in a monster kick which made the Lions full-back turn and chase. The ball bobbled all the way to the five-metre line and the full back fumbled initially before being hit hard by opposite number Pete Burnell, with the ball spilling backwards over the line for supporting winger Sam Bench to touch down.

Lions then raised their game and for the next 35 minutes Southam had to defend resolutely.

The Lions handling and ball retention, which had been lacking in the first half, improved and this allowed them to mount continuous waves of attacks.

After 20 minutes they scored a converted try after a number of phases in the Southam 22, with the ball spread wide for the score.

Rugby pummelled the line, but were repelled time after time by dogged Southam defence.

However, as Southam struggled for possession, Rugby scored their second converted try following a lineout catch and drive.

Southam’s rearguard action was not aided by a red card for Justin Urbonas who was sent off after trip earned him a second yellow.

Rugby continued to attack the visitors’ line, ignoring several kickable penalty opportunities to move up to the corner, but the Southam defence, which has been the cornerstone of their success all season, held firm.

In the last five minutes Southam secured some ball, worked their way down into the Lions’ five-metre zone and ran the clock down for a historic win.