Strand hat-trick can’t prevent defeat
SOUTHWELL 2ND XV 47 LINCOLN 2ND XV 31
LEAGUE PLAY-OFF SECOND LEG
Kodi Strand crossed for a hat-trick but it wasn’t enough to prevent Lincoln’s 2nd XV from going down to an aggregate defeat in their league play-off against Southwell.
Lincoln went into the second leg holding a slender 29-26 advantage and Strand’s treble, along with tries from Grant Laws and Sam Cowles gave the visitors a good chance.
Brad Nixon also added three conversions for Lincoln but the visitors were unable to convert enough of their chances into points and some individual tries from Southwell proved decisive.
Southwell opened the scoring after just two minutes when Sam Birch went over for a try near the corner.
The hosts tried to increase their lead soon after but a superb tackle by Tom Eggleston, who was later forced off injured, stopped the attack in its tracks.
Lincoln reduced the deficit after 10 minutes when John Feeney off loaded to put Strand over for a try in the corner which Nixon converted.
Southwell hit back when Josh Hart powered through a tackle and took advantage of some poor defence to go over for a try. Joe Stuchbury added the extras.
Another excellent tackle by Eggleston prevented Southwell from adding to their lead midway through the first half and won possession back for Lincoln.
Lincoln tried to hit back with Josh Brown running an excellent line to get deep into the opposition’s half, but it was Southwell who were next to score. Alex Riley dodged past several players to run in for a try, which Stuchbury converted.
Lincoln were creating some good chances and nearly reduced the deficit only to end up conceding another try. An excellent scrum put the visitors in an good position to score but a poor pass was intercepted by Hart and the Southwell man then raced clear to score. Stuchbury added the conversion.
Strand went over for his second try of the afternoon as Lincoln cut the gap to 26-12 going in at the break. Jack Miles went on a strong powerful run through the Southwell defence, barging his way through several players, before Feeney off loaded for Strand to score in the corner.
Lincoln came close to reducing the deficit further within five minutes of the restart as Eggleston dodged and weaved and his way through the defence but the full-back was tackled just short of the try line. That was Eggleston’s last contribution as he was carried off injured shortly after. Everyone at the club wishes him a speedy recovery.
The visitors then moved to within two points of their opponents to set up a tense final 25 minutes. Following a scrum Rob Filmer and captain Mitch Ashworth exchanged passes before the latter set up Laws to go over for a try. Euan Kelley converted.
Filmer and Ashworth combined again following another strong scrum before the captain set up Strand to go over for his hat-trick.
Lincoln continued to put pressure on Southwell in a contest that could have gone either way but two tries in six minutes gave the hosts some breathing space.
Riley ran from inside his own half to score a try before Stefan Ortiz off loaded for Stuchbury to score. Stuchbury successfully converted both tries.
Lincoln refused to give up and David Beveridge made excellent yards before Ashworth set up Cowles, who came steaming through to run in for a great try. Nixon successfully slotted over the conversion.
With the game finely in the balance going into the final eight minutes Lincoln tried to cut the gap further but Beveridge was tackled just short of the try line after Ashworth had superbly won the ball back.
Missed tackles allowed Tom Broughton to run in for a try and Stuchbury kicked the conversion to end Lincoln’s hopes of a comeback.
Southwell lost a player to the sin bin late on and Lincoln tried to take advantage but Sam Moate was tackled just a metre short of the try line as the hosts held on.
After the match coach Aaron Bird said: “The second team is all about developing players and having faith in each other and I think that showed on the pitch despite the result.
“We were the better team but lost to good individual tries. All I can ask as coach is for a performance and they gave me that, led by captain and man of the match Mitch.
“We are already building for next season where we will be going out to win the league.
“It was sad to lose Eggy, one of the star performers, to injury and a double fracture and dislocation and we wish him a speedy recovery. He’s one of the toughest players the club has ever had.”