A sizeable Lymm support travelled through the fog for the first game of the New Year at Doncaster’s Castle Park stadium.
Unfortunately Lymm would not be playing in that very nice stadium, as Doncaster Knights were playing Munster in a re-arranged fixture. So, a rather basic side pitch was to be the venue.
This setting was actually a more appropriate setting for the chief content of the game; grit, and lots of it as Lymm ground out a win by 10-17.
Lymm began the game brightly. Rich McEvoy made a fine early break, and his kick through almost saw Jake Ashall score. The attack ended with a player being tackled without the ball and an early yellow card for Phoenix.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure but a penalty for holding on, when inches from the try line ended one attack, and a forward pass to a charging Ashall ended another.
The first score would soon follow with Cormac Nolan unconventionally kicking a penalty from 40 metres, 0 v 3.
Lymm failed do deal with the restart and surrendered possession deep in their own half. Doncaster put together a move that saw their centre, Bottomley, carve open Lymm’s defence and pop a pass to number 8 Kettle to score. The conversion was good, 7 v 3.
A yellow card for a high tackle (one of four in the game) saw Zak Lythgoe leave the field with Phoenix looking the more dangerous. Bottomley continued to feed off his scrum half and create gaps in the 14 man Lymm defence. Lymm defended bravely and despite excellent field position the home side could not add to their tally.
The game then became a full blooded, gritty affair with neither side really able to make more than 15 metres into the opposition half. There was some expansive play within this truncated playing area, but committed defending and penalties stopped each side advancing. Ashall and Nolan for Lymm, and Phoenix full back Porter, all looked likely to make a line break but were all hauled back.
A couple of nasty injuries impacted on the home side, and another yellow card reduced them to 14 again. Nolan could not add points from the ensuing penalty, but soon after young winger Luke Titherington linked with James Kimber to set the centre free. His strong run resulted in another Lymm penalty and this time Nolan’s difficult kick was good, 6 v 7.
Half time allowed those gathered to sneak in to watch the Munster match and enjoy the latest in Yorkshire haute cuisine, the Yorkshire Fajita. This Tex Mex(borough) fusion dish consists of strips of roast beef and onion wrapped in a massive Yorkshire pudding. It was warm and edible…..
It was a testimony to the energy on show on the humble little side pitch that none of the Lymm spectators who had snuck in to watch the big game in the stadium remained there, and all were in place for the second half.
The second half continued where the first left off. Kimber was charging forward again, and he influenced a penaly 30 metres out as Andy Davies ( who had been the target of a series of slightly late hits) was again taken off the ball. Nolan scored to give Lymm the lead, 7 v 9.
The grit returned and both sides battled either side of half way. Sandal won a penalty but it was too far out for the kicker, Lymm’s back three, Nolan, Titherington and Mc Evoy all made yards when in possession but were always attacking from very deep. Meanwhile both packs were shutting down any threat that came their way.
Finally, the back line combined and McEvoy advanced the attack to the 20 metre line. Lymm tidied up a bit of messy play and Andy Davies put Titherington in a bit of space which he exploited before throwing a looping pass to Kimber who side stepped to score. 7 v 14. Nolan was close with the conversion but missed.
Adam Bray made a bullish break from the restart but tripped and knocked on. An athletic intervention from Mike Auden won the ball back for Lymm and substitute Tom Shard squeezed an excellent kick deep into Doncaster territory. Another yellow for a high tackle on Tom Bray was the end result. This was the second yellow for the Yorkshire teams prop so Lymm would be a man up for the rest of the game. Nolan converted the penalty, 7 v 17.
Despite being a man down, Phoenix were determined to take something from the game. The final stages of the game were about their determined attempt to take a losing bonus point. A first kickable penalty was missed, and a second turned down in favour of a line out. That looked to be a good call, as their maul advanced 10 metre. However, with Ollie Higginson leading Lymm’s defence the home side could not cross the line.
In the dying second’s however Doncaster got the penalty points they craved and a deserved bonus point.
Lymm’s young side fully deserved the win against a side smarting from the heavy defeat suffered last time these teams met. An obvious commitment to each other and possible better decision making than in some recent performances helped them go up a place in the league to 8th.
Team : Jordan Widdrington, Adam Bray, Dan Horton, Zak Lythgoe, Joe Watson, Alli Sutherland, Jake Ashall, Ollie Higginson, Andy Davies, Tom Bray, Lucas Titherington, James Kimber, Titherington, Richard Mc Evoy, Cormac Nolan Subs: Mike Auden, Matty Connelly, Tom Shard