Friday night rugby came to Haslams again and the teams ran out in front of a healthy crowd. Ryan Manning led the Derby team out in honour of his 100th appearance.
With mist swirling around the ground, it was Lichfield who made the better start, but they were unable to turn territory into points.
After 22 minutes, it was Derby who took the lead. They kept the ball through a number of phases, before Jake Barker crashed over from close range, for his 1st try of the season.
Derby were in the ascendancy at this point and 9 minutes later, McGrath Van Wyk extended the lead with a penalty.
Lichfield hit back and only desperate defence kept them out. Dan Hyams was sent to the sin bin, leaving Derby defending with 14 men. Lichfield kept attacking and looked certain to score, but McGrath Van Wyk picked off a pass and sprinted the length of the field to score in the corner. He then picked himself up and added a superb conversion.
This left the half time score 15 – 0 in Derby’s favour.
It didn’t take Derby long to add to their tally. They again kept the ball alive and a clever offload from Luke Willmott allowed Gabriel Kajdy to score under the posts. McGrath Van Wyk again converted and Derby were 3 scores clear.
Half way through the half, Derby looked certain to score again, but the ball was lost. Lichfield seized possession and swept upfield to score a converted try.
With 7 minutes remaining, Derby looked to be heading for a comfortable win as they clinched the bonus point for their 4th try. This time it was the backs, with the ball going down the line and Ben Marlow putting Ryan Manning away to score in the corner. What a way to mark your 100th appearance, scoring your 26th try ! This left Derby 20 points clear and with time running out, the game was surely over.
Lichfield had other ideas ! They took the game to Derby and scored 3 tries in the final 5 minutes. Crucially for Derby, they only converted 2 of them; otherwise they might have snatched a remarkable win.
The final whistle saw Derby claim a much needed 5 points as they aim to move up the table to safety. It was also nice to finally beat a team whose name didn’t begin with s !
The long trip to Leominster to take on Luctonians waits next week.
Come on Derby !
Match Report by Richard Bambra