Report by Simon Plumb
AFTER a series of losses to Wirral, Lymm eventually put their close rivals to the sword in an intriguing and mightily contested encounter as they won 21-30.
Both sides are grass roots clubs and after a litany of injuries, have had to dig deep from the junior ranks to field competitive teams in this very physical league. Against this backdrop it would be interesting to see who had the greater depth of players.
On a dry, windless but cloudy day and surprisingly perfect surface, the home team burst out of the blocks with a well worked try, with good hands right then left, for the left wing to score in the corner, well converted from the touchline – 7-0 after 5minutes.
In a match that was to go one way then the other, the Wirral 6 was then yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on temporarily giving Lymm the numerical advantage and full back Cormac Nolan duly converted the penalty from 35m out – 7-3 after 14 minutes.
Wirral, playing bullishly, threatened from two attacking line outs but were repelled both times. Somehow, their accuracy we had come to expect was missing. Then came a bit of magic that England emulated later in the day. The enigmatic Richard McEvoy, playing at outside centre this day, received the ball 40m out and made an outstanding and sumptuous outside break, rarely seen at this level, he then switched inside and outstripped the cover to race in under the posts, for Nolan to convert, 7-10 after 21 minutes.
Lymm 8 Ollie Higginson was particularly prominent, both thwarting attacks and initiating his own. Following a series of surges from Lymm, Wirral infringed giving Nolan a penalty opportunity after 34mins – 7-13. They took this lead to half time, despite line out attacks which Lymm defended well. Scrum half Andy Davies’s defensive touch kicking was outstanding, the result of much practice according to his Dad! Then Lymm hooker and skipper Adam Bray was sent to the bin as the half time whistle went, setting up a fascinating second half.
Lymm new the next score was an important one and started with intent. After a series of phases and recycling, second row Joe Watson was on the end a series of well timed passes to score in the left corner for an unconverted try after 46mins – 7-18. Then with Wirral putting strong attacking phases in the Lymm 22, second row Will Baldwin was yellow carded for holding on. Although Captain Bray had exceeded his 10 in the sin bin, he was not allowed back on until Wirral had executed their penalty and resulting 5m lineout.
With Bray back on, 14 man Lymm defended tenaciously but Wirral could sense the whitewash. They broke down the right with a well executed passing routine, to score and edge closer with a converted try – 14-18. They now had their tails up and this was swiftly followed up by a good break from the Wirral fly half for the left wing to score in the left corner, giving Wirral the lead at 19-18, for the second time in the match.
This was a tight and enthralling game, but the drama was not over yet. Lymm second row Watson was also yellow carded so that would be 30 minutes with 14 men on the pitch. Lymm were also playing two players out of position, both on the wing. 18 year old Callum Morris, making his 1st XV debut, normally a scrum half, on the left. He stole the ball after a tackle and set off on a mazy little run. This cameo showed a very skilful player in the making. The ball was eventually moved through many pairs of hands to right wing Rhys Jones, normally a fly half, who deftly created space on the inside for centre Lucas Titherington to go over near the posts, which Nolan converted after 62 minutes – 21-25 and the lead was re-taken.
Young Morris didn’t seem out of place in the team and as the Wirral full back threatened, as he had all afternoon, Morris made a crunching tackle into touch. The sages on the touchline were all nodding approval at this excellent find. They say defence wins games and Lymm needed all their resolve as the final quarter ticked away. Higginson stole the ball from an attacking Wirral line out and the Lymm back row kept up the tackling intensity, when the team needed it.
From a defensive scrum in their own 22 Lymm moved the ball wide to that man again, centre McEvoy who, once again broke through the defensive line, to sprint 60m to score out on the left, for a bonus try – 21-30. What a finish to an exciting and close game.
Coach Adam Fletcher was delighted. “After four losses on the bounce we needed a good win here. We had young players playing out of position today but they put in a hell of a shift. I feel we got what we deserved today and were the better team. As far as Richard McEvoy is concerned, not many players can do what he did today, in the way he scored his two tries.”
Team: 1. Dan Horton 2. Adam Bray (Capt). 3. Mike Auden 4. Joe Watson 5. Will Baldwin 6. Jake Ashall 7. Ali Sutherland 8. Ollie Higginson 9. Andy Davies 10. Will Titherington 11. Callum Morris. 12. Lucas Titherington 13. Richard McEvoy 14. Rhys Jones 15. Cormac Nolan. Reserves: Jordan Widdrington, Matty Connelly, Tom Shard.
Lymm’s next game is on Saturday 25th March home to Ilkley, KO 3.0pm.