LYMM Rugby Union continued their good form with an impressive 21-6 victory over Sandal.
Before the match, most of Lymm’s supporters and players would have settled for a 21 – 6 win against a Sandal side that was in joint third place in the league, especially one that saw Lymm deny the opposition a try for the second week running.
It is testimony, however, to the progress that has been made at Lymm and to the latent potential that will, one day, be released that everyone was disappointed after the match in not picking up the try-scoring bonus point that should have been secured. It is ironic that Lymm won but dropped to fourth place in the league. The harsh reality is that if the team aspires to be at the top of the league it has to pick up maximum points when they are there to be won. The feeling was that teams higher up the league would have put many more points on the board than Lymm, who appeared to be content that the match was won at half time.
It was such a promising start. Oli Higginson, Lymm’s talented second-row forward who plays like a centre, ran 40 metres up-field from the kick-off, then secured the ball at the ensuing line-out 10 metres from the Sandal line to set up Scott Harrison for a try. One minute gone and the score was Lymm 5 – Sandal 0.
A similarly impressive run by hooker Pete Allen on 15 minutes, followed by a deft grubber kick to the corner saw winger Jack Johnstone touch-down in the corner to put Lymm ahead 10 points to 3. They had conceded several penalties in between the two tries, only one of which had been converted by the Sandal kicker.
Sandal’s backs executed several well worked moves throughout the match and their strong running right winger and full-back often threatened Lymm’s line, but Lymm’s backs have worked hard on tightening their defence and managed to keep Sandal out.
Lymm’s backs have not, as yet, shown their full potential in attack. On 28 minutes full-back David Williamson reminded Lymm’s supporters of his pace and attacking flair, when he out-sprinted the Sandal defence and set up Jack Johnstone for what should have been his second try. More clinical finishing would have seen Lymm move further ahead.
A sniping run from scrum-half Tom Baker, who was busy and belligerent throughout the match, set up what turned out to be the final try of the match on 35 minutes. He forced Sandal into conceding a penalty and the kick to the corner, followed by a superbly organised drive from the resultant line-out, saw prop Jordan Widdrington go over the line. The half-time score was: Lymm 15; Sandal 3.
In the second half the two sides swapped penalties for off-side or going over the top at rucks. By the 62nd minute Lymm had edged further ahead to 21 points to 6, which remained the score until the final whistle. Jack Johnstone could / should have scored yet another try on 73 minutes but was thwarted by a desperate ankle tap by the Sandal full-back.
Like the week before at West Hartlepool, Lymm finished the match with only 14 players. For a change it wasn’t replacement prop Tucker who went for the early bath, but versatile flanker / hooker John Millington, who managed to stay on the pitch for all of one minute before being yellow-carded for what the referee determined cynical play. The cynics in the Lymm clubhouse might doubt the team’s ability to top the league but today they were given further glimpses of the team’s potential, with or without 15 players on the pitch.
The team coped well without inspirational pack leader Alex Bennett, who suffered a badly cut eyebrow at West Hartlepool. This gave ex-colt Piers Crozier his first, very well-deserved start as Alex’s replacement. He stepped up to plate and performed well, but he and the rest of the team know that a sterner test lies ahead at Rossendale, away, next week. Lymm know what to expect and if they are able to win again, for the fifth week in succession, they will really post a statement for all in the league to notice. It will be a major boost to the individual and collective confidence of players in the team if Lymm pull it off next week. Let us hope so !!
Team: 15 Williamson; 14 Barnes-Smith; 13 Bray (T); 12 Emmitt; 11 Johnstone; 10 Knowles; 9 Baker; 8 Bray (A); 7 Connelly; 6 Millachip; 5 Crozier; 4 Higginson; 3 Widdrington; 2 Allen; 1 Harrison. Replacements: Broadbent (Tucker) for Widdrington (60 mins); Millington for Millachip (68 mins); Kinsey.