NATO Lions Start 2007 with a win at the Den

Carney Park, 14th January 2007 – The NATO Lions took to the pitch for the first time this year against a new adversary: Formia. Having never played this team before, it was always going to be a challenge, especially since the visitors had enough players for two teams, all of whom wanted some play-time against the legendary Lions. Despite the fact that this meant Formia were able to rotate their players to ensure a constantly fresh side, the Lions were not going to be pushed around on home turf. With both teams finding their feet after the Christmas break, the first quarter was a scrappy affair with both sides making unforced errors and neither managing to take a hold over their opponents. The second quarter was a different story as Formia’s fine tactical kicking kept the Lions pinned deep in their own half as the visitors pushed to get the first points of the game. Frustrated by the Lions’ characteristically fierce defence the attacking side tried to chip the ball behind the defenders only for it to be collected by the Lions’ pocket-rocket, winger Barry Womack who, bursting through Formia’s flailing tackles, sprinted the length of the pitch to score a stunning try, much to the delight of the Lions’ cheering spectators. Fly half Rolo took the opportunity to add more points to the board with a neat conversion. Following a stern dressing-down from their coach during the half-time break Formia returned to the field with renewed intent. They quickly seized their opportunity as they caught the Lions napping by taking a quick tap-penalty whilst the Lions’ players had their guard down, allowing their No. 7 the chance to break through the Lions’ defence to score a great opportunist’s try and teach the Lions a valuable lesson about turning their back on the opposition. Fortunately for the Lions, Formia missed the conversion leaving the home team with a slim 2-point advantage. Buoyed by their try Formia again attacked the home team’s line but were overwhelmed by the defence and pushed back to the half-way line as the whistle blew, signalling the end of the third quarter. At last, in the final quarter, the Lions found their rhythm and began to play like they have all season, playing exciting, running rugby and denying Formia any opportunities as they controlled all areas of play. A second try for the home team was inevitable now that they were in their stride and when ‘little’ Dan Colleen, who had been a towering presence in the lineout all game, won the ball from a Lions’ throw 15 yards from the Formia line the writing was on the wall. The Lions’ forwards drove the defending pack back over their try line allowing player-coach and Lions man of the match ‘Doc’ Cox to ground the ball. Rolo’s conversion took the score to 14-5, with only a few minutes of the match remaining. The Lions had the momentum in the dying seconds and looked likely to score again but unfortunately had left it too late, as the final whistle blew before they were able to add to their total. It was a frustrating match for the Lions, who despite being the better team, had made hard work of what should have been a relatively easy encounter. However it was a game played in good spirits and keen sportsmanship and the home team will look forward to welcoming Formia back to the Lion’s Den soon. Final Score NATO Lions 14 Formia 5