When you are down and having a run of poor results, bad luck seems to come looking for you and there is no place to hide. This certainly seems to apply to Lincoln Rugby Club as they struggle to find form in the 2002/3 Powergen East Midlands Division 3 (North).
On Saturday they played host to Nottingham side Paviors in a game that they might have expected to win. Indeed whilst at times the visitors performed better in the set pieces Lincoln were easily a match for them in the loose and had the crowd in a state of anticipatory excitement on a number of occasions with territorial breaks coming from both forwards and backs.
This was a crowd who, feeling comfortable after the pre-match three course lunch, wanted to be entertained by a home win. Their hopes were to be unfairly denied to them in a game in which the dice were rolling the wrong way.
Although Paviors kicking down the slope went into an early lead with a penalty in front of the posts. Lincoln came back with a vengeance with a period of sustained pressure in the Paviors half. A clearance by Paviors was kept in by scrum half Ewen Hamilton to set up centre Paul Clarke for a superb Lincoln try. This was converted and although Paviors were to reply with one more penalty Lincoln went into the turn one point ahead and with the wind and slope in their favour.
The second half however had a completely different tone to the first and was dogged by stoppages. It is unfair to complain about the refereeing because this amateur game could not be played without the efforts of referees giving up their Saturdays to enable others to lay the game.
However in this case it is possible to identify two specific refereeing mistakes that lead to tries by Paviors that decided the result in their favour.
The first was a clear knock on by Paviors in open ground that was seen by everyone. The ball was picked up by Lincoln but no advantage was gained and the same movement saw Paviors recover the ball to score.
Nevertheless Lincoln came back and despite a period where every decision seemed to go against them found themselves awarded a scrum five metres out from the Paviors corner. Veteran Clive Lewis playing at flanker took no chances and a thundering drive took him over the line and Lincoln back into a slender 12 – 11 lead.
Lincoln held on to this lead until near the end of the match when the second major refereeing mistake cost them the game. A kick forward by Paviors lead to Lincoln full back and skipper Nick Middleton being unable to control a difficult bounce. A further fly hack saw a race between a Paviors payer and Lincoln winger Adam (Sid) Whitwell actually won by Whitwell. The referee following on at a distance of some 30 to 40 metres awarded a try to Paviors.