WHITCHURCH ended second best in a thrilling 38-31 defeat at home to unbeaten league leaders Lichfield in Midlands One West.

The visitors led with an early converted try but the hosts hit back when Tom Stone drove over for an unconverted try.

Lichfield turned on the style with four more tries before the half hour to underline their class.

However the home side remained in contention with tries from Steve Bloore and Michael Oakden, both converted by Danny Nicholas, making the score 31-19 at the break.

The second-half had hardly started when Jack Furnival crashed over for a try close in wiith Nicholas converting to reduce the arrears to just five points.

Lichfield responded like the superb team they are and scored a converted try with half an hour left.

It was now all Whitchurch and the pressure paid off when skipper Nicholas cut back inside to score and then convert to leave just seven points between.

The Reds laid siege and the pressure looked to have told when Mike Gardiner burst through to touch down but the referee ruled the ball had not been grounded as the Staffordshire side held out for victory.

Club spokesman John Oakden praised both sides for their part in the spectacle, saying: “This was a great advertisement for rugby at this high level with many spectators coming from all over the Midlands to watch this showpiece match.”

The Reds now stand in seventh position with 15 points and travel to second place Stoke on Trent next week with confidence high.

Meanwhile the club’s second string marched to a 70-0 win over Manchester-based Linley and Kersall IIs.

Pat Fray and Jake Astley each crossed for two tries each while Rob Kellett, Jimmy Holland, Alex Kyle, Haydn Evans, Tom Thornton and Brian Torskj also went over the whitewash with Lee Blackhurst kicking five conversions.

The result ensured the side stayed second in the NOWIRUL The Right Broker Division 3 South - seven points adrift of leaders Sandbach IIIs.

The seconds make the trip to Winnington Park next Saturday.