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Rams RFC go level at top of National One with win over Leicester Lions – Reading Today Online

Charlie Robson is congratulated by Axel Kalling-Smith

A FOCUSSED performance, terrific start and superb defensive display were the key factors in Rams’ 33-12 National One bonus-point win against Leicester Lions as they cut the gap at the top of the table.

The hosts flew out of the blocks with a second-minute Axel Kalling-Smith score and a beauty from Charlie Robson.

Rams wrapped up the bonus by the break as Max Hayman and Ben Atkins also crossed in the space of three minutes shortly before the interval – Fraser Honey perfect from the tee for 28-0.

Leicester replied well in the third quarter and cut the gap through a Malelili Satala double and Dan Lewis conversion, only for the outstanding Mike Hoyt to calm any home nerves with the final try of the afternoon.

Director of rugby Seb Reynolds said: “Leicester’s recent form has been so good and we knew they’ve been playing well – they had fantastic wins against Plymouth and at Richmond and they had some of the England Under 20s boys back in – so you could argue they came with their strongest side and had nothing to lose.

Rams RFC v Leicester Lions Pictures: Paul Clark

“We knew they were going to move it round and I thought our defensive display was superb.

“It was important to start the way we did, and I felt we were very focussed. We hit them in areas we felt we could have success in, so that was good.”

Robson’s try – spectacularly set-up with a gorgeous reverse pass from the skilful Hoyt – had the DoR purring. He continued: “It’s a huge credit to the skill level of the boys.

“What we’re trying to develop with the pack is stuff we just couldn’t have done 10 years ago and it’s because we’ve got ball-players in there, the likes of Hoyty, Calum (Scott), Ben (Atkins), James McRae and the rest, they’re all producing these skilful moments.

“(Coach) Harry Stapleton’s working with them on little intricate passes, and we want to develop a 15-man passing game, but there were also positives around the set-piece and particularly the scrum.”

Delighted with the first half, the head coach admitted things went a little awry after the interval but shouldered any blame for the drop in performance.

He said: “I got it wrong a little bit at half-time – we sent them out a little too pumped-up and trying to prove a point, whereas throughout the season we’ve always been very calm.

“That’s when we play our best – we don’t need to wind these boys up for them to bring their physicality, so I’ll take responsibility for that.

“We lost our discipline, allowed a good team into the game, were on a warning for a yellow card we were perhaps lucky not to get, but then we wrestled things back and that was good, especially without (the experience of) James Baker, (captain) Robbie (Stapley) and later Drew (Humberstone) on the park.

“The younger guys used their dynamism to take the game back to them, and we did a very good job of sorting out our discipline, playing field position and then we got the try; I thought Calum and Ollie Monye were superb, and Rowan (Grundy) cutting through the middle to almost score as well.”

With table-topping Chinnor slipping to a 22-17 defeat at Blackheath, the two sides are now locked on 77 points with seven games remaining, but Reynolds reiterated his squad will not look beyond next Saturday’s trip to Darlington Mowden Park while also praising another fine turnout from supporters.

“The guys are doing great taking it week by week, and we’ll keep doing that.

“The crowd were also amazing again. There’s always a buzz which builds when there’s a second-team game, but despite that being off it was there anyway.

“The stand’s filling up more and more, there’s a great atmosphere and thanks to everyone who helps put on this show and supports a young side trying to play the best rugby they can.”

Rams face the long trip to Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday (3pm).

By Richard Ashton

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