LUCTONIANS started their 2023/24 National League 2 West campaign with a comfortable 31-21 victory on the road at Dudley Kingswinford. 

Newly promoted Dudley presented Lucs with challenges on a warm afternoon in the Black Country, but the National League experience of the visitors told in how clinical they were in taking opportunities.

Lucs showed their experience as early as the fifth minute, as hooker Ben Link forced his way over the line to give Lucs an early 0-5 advantage.

Link was third place in the division’s top try-scorer category last season, and he picked up his second of this season after just 12 minutes with a carbon-copy of his first, dotting down in the left-hand corner again. Louis Silver added the extras and Lucs led 0-12.

Whilst the hosts were certainly making a game of it in the middle third of the pitch, when Lucs entered the 22 they continued to come away with points, and on their next visit on 30 minutes, heavy forward pressure at both lineout and scrum applied the squeeze and during a penalty advantage powerful winger James Wheeler was freed to score in the corner for 0-17.

Dudley’s efforts were finally rewarded at the end of the half, with the clock in the red, they managed to force over flanker Tom Foster under the sticks and with Fred Morgan converting the game was still alive at the break 7-17.

The second half began with a dominant display from the Lucs side, and on 48 minutes Link went over for his hat-trick from yet another driving maul.

Lucs then kicked a penalty to the corner following cynical play from Dudley fullback Mark Harrison, which stopped a clear try-scoring opportunity and earned him 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

Silver would convert for 7-24 and the visitors had the try-bonus point sowed up.

The outcome of the match would also follow suit on Lucs next visit to the 22, as man of the match Owien Harriott-Davis went on another crushing run before freeing his arms to offload to centre Lewis Parkes who went under the posts. Silver once more added the extras and the game was done at 7-31 on 56 minutes. 

The hosts would keep playing though and got two consolation scores on 65 minutes and with the final play of the game, as wingers Thomas Walker and George Bennett both went over in the right hand corner, as Morgan added excellent conversions for a final score of 21-31.

The men from Herefordshire left the Black Country satisfied having tied up a maximum haul of points on the road at a tricky opponent experiencing the bounce of promotion to a new league.

Luctonians get their home fixtures off to a start this coming Saturday, as they host Bristol-based Old Redcliffians at Mortimer Park.