LYMM Rugby Union returned to winning ways as they defeated Burnage 20-14 at Crouchley Lane.
Some home supporters described it as an `ugly’ win, but they were very happy to take it against a good Burnage side.
On this showing, Burnage, whose pack put Lymm under pressure in the scrums all afternoon, will pose a threat to many teams in this league. They have some dangerous runners in their backs and if they had taken their chances Burnage could have won this match.
Once again Lymm’s defence and collective determination to grind out a result earned them the points. Two yellow cards in the forwards, one of which was 8 minutes from the end of the match did not help matters. Fortunately they did have a match-winner in winger Jack Johnstone who scored one try and set up another for stand-off Andy Robertsfor Lymm to win through in the end. It could have been easier if they had not put themselves under so much self-inflicted pressure, but the final result made amends for the narrow defeat by Rossendale in the last minute of the match the week before.
Ironically, this win saw Lymm fall one place in the league to fifth, following Rossendale’s away win at Chester. Lymm remain in the mix at the top end of the table and these results give them confidence that when they perform to their best they have the ability to beat any team in the league.
Lymm took the lead against the run of play when a tremendous turn of pace by winger Dave Williamson saw him carve through the Burnage defence to set up a try for Jack Johnstone, who threw an outrageous dummy before galloping under the posts on 8 minutes to put Lymm ahead 7 – nil; Luke Emmitt converting.
Burnage, playing with the wind, dominated territory in the first half, aided by some by poor kicking from hand by Lymm’s backs, which allowed the Burnage backs to counter-attack and to threaten the Lymm line. Jack Johnstone, centre Tom Bray and skipper Joe Knowles were called upon on more than one occasion to keep Burnage out down their right wing, when a try looked on. Training ground work on back defence certainly paid dividends in this match. As session on keeping the ball in hand to allow Lymm’s talented backs to really show the potential that other sides envy must surely be the focus in training this week.
Continual pressure from the Burnage pack forced Lymm to concede penalties. Burnage missed two kickable penalties before flanker Pete Millachip was yellow-carded on 14 minutes. Burnage did score two converted tries in the first half, one on 25 minutes following a well-worked back move and one on 36 minutes from a line-out and well-executed driving maul.
Lymm responded in the final few minutes of the first half. A good run by Adam Bray and a Joe Knowles break forced Burnage to concede a penalty that allowed Luke Emmitt to peg back the score at half time to 10-14.
A penalty on 46 minutes by Luke Emmitt narrowed the gap to one point. Lymm enjoyed more territorial possession than in the first half, but still needed to call on their defensive skills to keep Burnage out. Alex Raey came on at prop on 48 minutes to bolster the pack and Matthew Connelly brought on fresh legs to replace Pete Millachip at flanker on 54 minutes. Alex did well to steal the ball to halt one of several Burnage attacks and they both needed to work hard to face up to intense pressure that Burnage imposed on Lymm’s line. Good fortune also came into play when a Burnage player knocked on when a try looked certain.
The best move of the match for Lymm sealed what turned out to be a hard-fought victory, when a forward drive by No. 8 Adam Bray set up a platform for Lymm’s back to show their talent. Andy Roberts fed the ball out wide to Jack Johnstone, who danced round his opposition and unselfishly passed the ball back inside to Andy for him to go over under the posts. Luke Emmitt converted the try to take his tally to 10 points; putting Lymm in front at 20-14.
The yellow card to prop Scott Harrison on 72 minutes added drama to the end of the match. Of more concern was the loss on 78 minutes of Cheshire centre, Tom Bray, who damaged his ankle in a tackle. It appears unlikely that he will be available for the trip next week to bottom 3 side Penrith.
Lymm’s Head Coach, Chris Kinsey, had mixed feelings after this match. He agreed that it had been an `ugly’ win and although he expressed frustration about the team giving away so much possession, the ability and determination to win a match when not playing at their best augurs well for the future. Watch out Penrith !
Team: 15: Knowles 14: Williamson 13:Bray (T) 12; Emmitt 11: Johnstone 10: Roberts 9: Baker 8 Bray (A) 7: Ashall 6: Millachip 5: Williams 4: Bennett 3: Widdrington 2: Allen 1: Harrison Replacements: Raey (48 mins) Connell (54 mins) Barnes-Smith(78 mins).