Monday, 15 August 2022

Lewis’s late penalty proves decisive

RAMS director of rugby Seb Reynolds conceded Birmingham Moseley deserved their dramatic 27-26 National Division 1 win at Old Bath Road last Saturday after the hosts failed to convert a number of chances to secure a victory of their own, writes Richard Ashton.

The visitors started well and took a deserved lead when Ashley Johnson went over at the back of a rolling maul, only for Rams to rally as first-time starter Sam Nicholls landed a brace of excellent conversions to tries from Max Hayman and the returning Tom Vooght.

Moseley were reduced to 14 men midway through the half as Ollie Allsopp was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, but the hosts were unable to extend their lead despite dominating possession and territory before Birmingham fly-half Dan Lewis converted his own score to cut the deficit to four points shortly before the break.

A Mason Tonks try five minutes into the second half, converted by Lewis, nudged the visitors in front, only for Connor Hayhow to dot down with Nicholls adding the extras.

Rams continued to have the better of the game, but they were hit by a body blow when Tonks intercepted a pass near his own try-line before going the length of the field to put his side back in front, a Lewis kick making it 24-21 to Moseley.

However, Rams again replied, skipper Robbie Stapley going over at the back of a maul to put his side back in front before a Lewis penalty eight minutes from time proved the decisive play of the match.

And while it felt like one which got away for the home side, a philosophical Reynolds said: “All credit to Moseley, they played some good rugby and we probably took too long to get into our defensive sets, giving them two cheap scores in the first half which ultimately cost us.

“You just can’t do that at this level and give any side freebies.

“Attacking and continuity-wise there was some really good stuff, and on another day it might have been a comfortable victory, but it wasn’t and Birmingham deserved it.”

When Lewis converted his own try on the brink of half-time it seemed a turning point, with Tonks’ second score also coming against the run of play and also proving crucial in the end.

Reynolds added: “(At the end of the first half) there was kind of a 14-point swing when we were knocking on the door five metres out and then we coughed up the ball, they go down the other end and score and it probably gave them the boost of energy they needed.

“We’ve got to know when to pull out of (the continuity game). I really like the way we play our rugby; we go for the off-loads and at times it was sublime, we could have sent a couple of players under the posts.

“At times it can make you pull your hair out when it doesn’t go to hand — even though I’ve not got much — and while it can be frustrating, we have to be okay with that as we develop.”

He continued: “We had a lot of youngsters in the squad and I was really pleased for Sam Nicholls, I thought he had a really strong game and kicked with composure.

“Paul Englezos, when he came on was excellent and Max Hayman made a number of bullocking runs around the pitch and made plenty of chop tackles, Vince Everitt in combination with Vooghty was very good at the breakdown.

“Axel (Kalling-Smith) coming off the bench and Kieran (Leicester) on the wing were good, we’ve got lots of changes but we’re fine with that — we’ve got a deep squad with young guys coming through and I’m pleased with where they’re at.

“There was lots of good stuff but it wasn’t to be — sometimes that’s the way it goes.”

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