– Thomas Belli contributed to this report.

Lincoln 2nd XV suffered a wounding 8-64 loss to higher league opponents, Leicester 3rd XV, in their opening cup fixture of the season.

The second team started their cup run against a formidable Leicester outfit at the autumn arena of North Hykeham.

As warned in the pre-match talk, the visitors were going to be strong up front and, as correctly predicted, they used their pick and go strengths effectively.

Leicester were keen to shine early on and, before 10 minutes were up, Lincoln were already 12 points behind. Two tries stemming from driving efforts took advantage of weak Lincoln tackling, prompting the home side to wake up from their first half lull.

Lincoln started showing glimpses of their previous performances. Flanker, Tom Smith and fly half, Tom Hindle were amongst those putting in some courageous hits around the park.

Not long after, an interception from Josh Casbon left him in acres of space as he motored down the pitch. Cutting inside, he was able to find his supporting backline and for one moment Lincoln thought they were clear to score.

But with the referee halting the attack mid-flow in favour of an away team penalty, Leicester were able to scamper away down the touchline, running in under the posts. A simple conversion made the score 0-19, leaving an early mountain to climb for the seconds.

Lincoln managed to sustain some possession and with good communication from the likes of Rob Darcy. They managed to move into good areas within the opposition 22. Unfortunately, opportunities went begging for the home side, which wasn’t what was needed with a deficit so large.

Leicester impressed themselves on Lincoln, taking advantage of their higher league status and chances available. Further tries for the visitors left the half time score at 0-50.

Captain, Josh Casbon had his work cut out at half time as he tried to restore his side’s confidence. In order to pull something back and at least register some points, Lincoln needed to believe in their abilities and continue to front up.

And they did just that as, within minutes of restarting, scrumhalf, Liam Milroy drilled over a penalty from 40 metres to post Lincoln’s first points of the day.

Clearly Lincoln had switched into game mode as the side that returned for the second half looked like a completely different outfit. Both sides shared an even amount of possession but, despite the occasional venture into Leicester’s half, it was the visitors that were making the most of the ball in hand, hemming Lincoln deep in their own territory.

On the other hand, powerful scrummaging from Lincoln saw them hold off the fierce attack. Ian Antwi added real solidity to the pack. But, again, the optimism was broken as a turnover at the ruck saw a Leicester winger scythe through Lincoln’s defence, dotting down under the posts, making for an easy conversion.

Unlike before, Lincoln remained focused on getting that elusive try, pushing numbers forward. They eventually clawed their way into the opposition 22 with the assistance of some tactically astute kicking.

A succession of penalties came the way of the home side but they just couldn’t break the whitewash, until a quickly taken penalty by the scrum half, Liam Milroy was sharply popped inside to Cameron Dowie. As he charged forwards, he was able to find Josh Casbon with a basket pass, leaving him to fend off an incoming defender in order to stretch over the line.

A failed conversion meant that there was only a point separating the teams’ second half performances, so Lincoln were determined not to let in another opposition score. Man of the match, Rob Darcy put his body on the line immensely for his side, putting in a commanding performance in the back row.

But with the dying seconds ticking away, a break down the flank from the Leicester winger stripped an exhausted Lincoln for pace, allowing him to jog under the posts, sealing a solid victory and signalling the end of the game at 8-64.

It was a tough loss to take for a Lincoln 2nd XV that had started so brightly in the league. And, despite the immensely improved second half display, it just wasn’t enough to overcome the initial deficit.

The side could take heart from the fact that they were playing higher league opponents and hopefully draw the positives from this to fuel an improved run in the plate.