Report by Dave Fernyhough
THREE first half tries and a solid defence helped Lymm secure a 21-7 victory over Kendal.
When the teams last met, the weather played a huge part in a rather dour draw. This meeting was also weather influenced but had much more to recommend it as a contest. Whilst from the side lines the pitch looked ok, the loud squelching sound as the players took to the field attested to the contrary. Coach Fletcher would have been pleased to have his cabal of skiers back on the pitch, and a pretty much full strength squad at his disposal.
Prior to kick-off a one minutes silence was observed in respect of John Hewett and Colin Fray, two former Lymm players, who had died the previous week.
Lymm started very brightly as Kendal fluffed the kick off and had to start the game deep in their own territory. Lymm’s now trademark defence frustrated the visitors attempts to create breathing space and time and again their clearing kicks were ran straight back at them. It wasn’t long before Lymm got the rewards their opening salvos deserved when Cormac Nolan retrieved a Kendal clearance and after making some room for himself made a glorious chip to the left wing. Back rower Ollie Higginson caught the ball well and charged forward before slipping an inside pass to young prop Matty Hand. Culminating a move that had older front rowers in the crowd musing on how the game has changed, Hand ran a full 35 yards to score in the corner. Nolan converted off the post, to give Lymm a 7 v 0 lead.
They continued to keep Kendal penned in their own half until a very deep kick by the fly half reached the home sides try line. Lymm failed to deal with the ball and surrendered a 5 metre scrum. Given the disparity in pack size many suspected Lymm would be undone by the scrum, however they stood firm. Kendal broke from the scrum and laid siege to Lymm’s line. Kendal attacked repeatedly from close range, and each time found themselves driven a little further back by the very impressive defence. After maybe a dozen phases Kendal were held up over the line, after which the Cumbrians knocked on and Lymm could catch their breath. This didn’t last long however, as Kendal again kicked deep and again Lymm failed to deal with the ball. A 5 metre line-out again saw Kendal trying to crack Lymm’s goal line defence and again come up short.
Both teams then realised that the midfield was probably a bit too swampy to be playing in and sent a series kicks to opposing full backs. Lymm eventually won possession near the Kendal goal and built on patient offence to enable Andy Davies to sneak over from close range. Nolan converted, 14 v 0.
Lymm crossed the line again after another fine Cormac Nolan break. The ball eventually found Kimber but he was adjudged to have moved after the tackle when scoring.
The next score did follow, when a clever kick by James Kimber found touch and Lymm were back in Kendal’s 22m. Adam Bray tidied up a loose line out and set up Lymm’s next offensive. The ball was moved across Kendal’s goal line until Andy Davies found the charging Tom Bray with a sublime no look, inside pass and Bray dived over the line close to the post. Nolan again added the extras, 21 v 0.
That brought the half to a close, and Lymm mused on a very professional performance, with intense defence combining with incisive running, passing and support play.
The second half was to be a very different affair. Kendal had not been outclassed by any means in the first half and had shown glimpses of their forward power. They brought more of this power to bear in the second half, and began to show dominance in the scrum. Early injuries to Cormac Nolan and Tom Bray, also impacted on Lymm’s structure and the usually resolute defence began to wobble.
Kendal soon found the gaps Lymm were leaving and their inside centre swerved a tackle and seemed certain to score. He lost the ball whilst trying to score however and Lymm got a lucky break. The same player made up for his error soon after as he capitalised on Kendal’s improving scrum and again skipped through the Lymm line. The conversion was good, 21 v 7.
This score seemed to re-ignite Lymm’s defensive pride, and they returned to relentless resistance of Kendal’s attack. In the conditions it seemed that once a team managed to get territory they would stay there for some time. Kendal certainly spent much time in Lymm’s half but could not add to their tally. The home boys did manage to get in sight of the opposition try line through a nicely weighted kick from Rich McEvoy. They nearly claimed a try bonus point when Aaron Rasheed broke from the back of a ruck and ran 20 metres to the goal. However he too lost the ball when about to score.
The last attack would be Kendal’s. Lymm lost the ball 10 metres in front of Kendal’s posts, and a hack down field was then dribbled into the Lymm half. With the final whistle seconds away Kendal went in search of their own losing bonus point. The ball found their left winger and he seemed destined to score. Lymm prop Gavin Woods had other ideas and he led a couple of team mates who managed to push him into touch just inches from the try line.
Lymm won 21 v 6, but the contest had been far closer than the score suggests.
It was noted in the clubhouse after the game that the Lymm defence has the lowest points concede per game record of any team in the top 5 levels of English rugby. It was this defence that gave them a hard fought but deserved win in the mud and gloom.
Next Saturday Lymm are away at Ilkley, KO 2.15pm
Squad : 1) Gav Woods, 2) Dan Horton, 3) Matty Hand, 4) Joe Watson, 5) James Yates, 6) Jake Ashall, 7) Adam Bray (C), 8) Ollie Higginson, 9) Andy Davies, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Ali Sutherland, 12) James Kimber, 13) Tom Bray, 14) Rich McEvoy, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Aaron Rasheed, 17) Sam Mullarkey, 18) Tom Shard.
Referee: Mr Adam Morrison – North Group
Outstanding team display puts Lymm top of the league
Report by Mal Pritchard
Meanwhile Lymm seconds went top of the league with an outstanding 7-22 victory at Vale of Lune.
Lymm travelled to top of the table Vale, for a winners ‘take all fixture’, knowing that only a victory would suffice. Lymm have a game in hand but Vale lead the table by one point and have a superior points difference. Conditions on the vast Vale pitch could described as soft under foot but it was just about playable and fortunately the rain stopped an hour before the game so it could have been worse.
Lymm had a few changes to the side due to the call of the first team and unavailability but fielded a young competitive side. Vale kicked off and Lymm soon showed they were up for the contest as they retained possession and harried Vale into mistakes. Ollie Askew turned over the ball excellently to get Lymm on the attack keeping Vale pinned in their half. It was after a scrum in the Vale 22 that possession was retained and after a change of direction Rhys Jones weighted his kick superbly behind the on rushing Vale defence and the slim line James Robinson won the race for the touch-down to open the scoring with an unconverted try, 0-5.
Vale responded and attacked Lymm through their big forwards and centres but they met an aggressive defence which knocked them backwards. Lymm continued to play the conditions very well, kicking intelligently from the half backs, Tom Baker and Rhys Jones, which kept Vale of the back foot. When Vale got possession invariably they were met with a brick wall or knocked on under pressure.
Lymm returned to the Vale half and from a scrum 20 metres out on the left the backs produced an excellent first phase move for blindside wing Josh Hamer to give the scoring pass to Toby Phillips, who ran a good line and used his pace to score an unconverted try in the corner, 0-10. The rest of half was played in midfield with Vale making little headway against the tenacious tackling of the Lymm side.
Lymm stayed on the pitch at half time as Vale went into the changing rooms. It seemed an age before they came out for the second half but as a spectator commented the referee could have been waiting for the adverts to finish!!
At half time, it was emphasised that the first 15 minutes would be vital, as Vale would come back strongly. The line speed and intensity had to be kept up to keep Vale at bay. However, it was Lymm who maintained the momentum and almost immediately after the restart they hacked through a dropped pass and ended up in the Vale 22. Good pick and drive from the forwards edged Lymm forward and when they released the ball to the backs, Rhys Jones executed a perfect kick pass to put winger Jake Davies in at the corner for a try, which Jones converted excellently, considering the conditions, 0-17.
There was still 30 minutes left so there was no room for complacency, as Vale are a dangerous side with some good runners. Lymm maintained the pressure and after good work down the right, the ball was moved swiftly across the pitch through slick handling by Ollie Askew, Henry Baldwin, Liz Coates and Tim Young. It ended with Kieran O’ Callaghan give a scoring pass to Jorge Reynolds who chipped ahead and won the race for the touchdown for an unconverted try, 0-22.
At 22-0 up Lymm we well ahead but Vale aren’t top of the league for nothing. They rallied strongly and after a series of penalties camped on the Lymm line but tremendous defence lead by Henry Baldwin and Kieran O’Callaghan knocked them back. In the last ten minutes Alex Stewart was sin binned and Vale began pressing as Lymm scrum came under pressure being a man short. Also Lymm lost a little shape and Vale kept pounding away until the referee awarded a penalty try from a scrum, with 3 minutes to go, 7-22.
It was fitting that Rhys Jones kicked the ball of the park to signal the end of the game. He had controlled proceedings excellently, making all the right decisions when in possession, keeping Lymm going forward with his kicking and knowing when to release his backs.
This was an excellent team effort, avenging the defeat here before Christmas. The team’s attitude and commitment was first class, which showed in the ferocious defence which won Lymm the game. The game management was excellent. It was difficult to name individuals in a good team performance but Rhys Jones and Tom Baker hardly put a foot wrong in difficult conditions and in the forwards Henry Baldwin led the charge showing no respect for his body with a number of thunderous tackles with Kieran O’ Callaghan not far behind.
Next week there is an even sterner challenge with Chester away in the Cup. Chester are top of the Premier League and have lost only one game this season. A repeat performance is required if we are to be competitive but it’s a challenge which we should embrace.
Team: 15) T Phillips, 14) J Hamer, 13) J Davies, 12) J Robinson, 11) J Davies, 10) R Jones, 9) T Baker (C), 8) T Young, 7) L Richards, 6) A Stewart, 5) L Coates, 4) H Baldwin, 3) K O’Callaghan, 2) J Pitcher, 1) O Askew. Rep: J Reynolds