Report by Neil Allen
ON a wet and windy afternoon at Beechwood Lymm’s table topping start to the season continued with another five star showing as they toppled Birkenhead Park 40-0
.The omens were not good, Birkenhead Park renowned for their big forwards would surely relish the conditions, furthermore Lymm talisman Oli Higginson failed a late fitness test and Will Titherington pulled up in the warm-up.
Coach Adam Fletcher re-shuffled his pack; Sam Mullarkey moved to No8 and Centre Tom Bray to flanker, a sure sign of intent and commitment to the 15 man style of rugby, which has got Lymm this far. Scott Redfern at 10 and Richard McEvoy at centre came off the bench and Andy Kerr moved up from the second team. With prop Gav Woods already absent and lock Will Baldwin side-lined with a broken ankle, the Lymm pack were sure to be tested by their bulkier opponents.
Whilst Birkenhead Park had periods where they bossed it up front, in the end it did not matter one jot, as this Lymm team is made of sterner stuff and Birkenhead Park were no match for the pace and skill of the slick home side.
The first score came after 10 minutes with Andy Davies making a scything break and linking with Richard McEvoy who went in under the posts, (7-0). 5 minutes later a similarly clinical exchange saw Ali Sutherland stroll over (14-0). At this point with Scott Redfern controlling things nicely from stand-off and runners popping up everywhere Birkenhead Park were struggling to lay a hand on Lymm.
The half continued in the same vein, apart from the odd spill due to the appalling conditions, on 25 minutes a ball off the top was transferred through several pairs of hands before McEvoy touched down again, (21-0). All tries were scored under the posts and converted by Cormac Nolan, a sure sign of the dominance Lymm were enjoying. With 5 minutes of the half remaining the bonus point was secured. This was probably the best try of the bunch, with outstanding support play and off-loading reminiscent of the Harlem Globetrotters, doubly impressive given the weather conditions, Lucas Titherington finally going over for an unconverted try in the corner. 26-0 and the game was won.
Lymm relaxed as half time beckoned and Birkenhead Park, over their shell shock, began to play, albeit in limited fashion. The second half turned into a sloppy affair, with Birkenhead Park having all the possession but doing very little with it. Led by Adam Bray, Lymm seemed content to test themselves with a half hour of defensive drills, a test they passed with flying colours.
With 10 minutes of the half to go and Birkenhead Park having run out of ideas of how to breach the Lymm defence, the switch was flicked and it was back to offence for the hosts, with Davies leading the charge and ending with young prop Matty Hands popping up on the wing to put second row Joe Watson over in the corner, (33-0). This score epitomised the type of rugby Lymm are trying to play and summed up the fitness levels and skill set from numbers 1 to 15. With both players having been at the heart of the defensive shift for the previous half-hour and Hands also having to grapple with O’Keefe in the Birkenhead front row, to have the awareness and legs to pop up and execute the try was almost All Blacks esque.
The final flourish was fittingly provided by Davies, acting as the pivot, waiting to be tackled, with backs and forward swarming around him for the ball. Titherington was again the final recipient. Cormac Nolan added the extras making it 5 out of 6 kicks for him and a 40 – 0 scoreline. Rugby is a game all about teamwork and support and this Lymm team have it in spades.
Birkenhead Park may wonder with all the possession they had, particularly in the second half, how they ended up pointless but for all Lymm’s attacking flair it is the defence, which is equally impressive and the determination in the last few minutes to keep Birkenhead Park out was as pleasing as any of the six great tries. Simple game rugby; good defence and great attack, not a bad recipe for success………
There will be greater challenges ahead in the depths of winter in Cumbria and Lancashire when starved of possession Lymm may be unable to impose their all court game, but today was not that day and until then Lymm enter the league break proudly and deservedly at the top of the pile. With the doubters saying Lymm have still not played ‘anybody’, one wise sage commented in the bar afterwards, ‘how can we play anybody above us when we are top.’
This weeendk sees a break in League action but Lymm travel away to Wirral in the Cheshire Vase.
Coach Adam Fletcher commented on the season so far: ‘The lads have performed to the standards that we set in pre-season. They are enjoying their rugby, playing with smiles on their faces and reaping the rewards. We are not getting carried away and will take every game as it comes. At the moment we deserve to be top and will enjoy it to the maximum.’
Squad: 1) Dan Horton, 2) Adam Bray (C), 3) Kieran O’Callaghan, 4) Joe Watson, 5) Matty Connelly, 6) Ali Sutherland, 7) Tom Bray, 8) Sam Mullarkey, 9) Andy Davies, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Joe Denman, 12) James Kimber, 13) Richard McEvoy, 14) Lucas Titherington, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Matty Hands, 17) Andy Kerr, 18) Will Titherington