Report by Andy Leach
LYMM welcomed newly promoted East Yorkshire side Pocklington to Crouchley Lane for the first ever meeting between the two clubs and extended their unbeaten run to 10 in style with a 66-0 victory.
With the weather significantly improved on Lymm’s last three fixtures, the autumnal sunshine and light wind suggested an entertaining match was in prospect, which from Lymm’s perspective, is precisely what was delivered.
The Lymm starting XV showed two changes in personnel from the team that had delivered the previous week’s victory at Rossendale – young prop Matty Hand moved from the bench to secure his first League start and fit-again wing Joe Denman came onto the right flank. The bench saw prop Gav Woods back, following his recovery from injury, where he joined Lucas Titherington and Jake Ashall.
Lymm kicked-off with Pocklington putting the ball in touch for a Lymm line-out mid-way between the Pocklington 22 and halfway. Higginson secured the ball from the set piece and Davies set the exciting Lymm backs off. Three purposeful passes put Denman in sufficient space to allow him to sprint in from 22m. One minute gone and Lymm had their first try, albeit Nolan narrowly missed the difficult conversion. 5-0
Three minutes later and Denman was in for his and Lymm’s second. This time it was Hand who got things going, collecting a speculative Pocklington kick on his own 22, bouncing off the Pocklington chasers and then making good forward progress. Davies quickly recycled the ball and sent it right along the Lymm back-line where the expert hands of fullback Nolan created an overlap for Denman to run in from 40m – returning the favour to Nolan by scoring under the posts and so making the conversion a formality. 12-0
On 13 minutes it was the turn of left wing McEvoy to cross the whitewash. Lymm’s defence, which had been tested by a period of Pocklington pressure in their own 22, ultimately forced a turnover and took play towards the halfway. From a subsequent scrum, Davies took the ball left, fly-half Redfern then executed a run around which opened a cavernous gap for him to exploit before feeding Nolan who put McEvoy into space allowing the speedster to score under the posts. 19-0
Next it was Nolan’s turn to score. Again the move started from distance with Davies exploiting the narrow-side. His decisiveness and pace, coupled with a spot of ball juggling, created a mismatch on which his supporting players expertly capitalised for Nolan to score and then slot the resultant conversion from wide-out. 26-0
On 30 minutes, Lymm had their bonus point score. From a scrum inside their own half, No 8 Higginson, who was immense in every phase of his game, made good yards before releasing his support players who made the right decisions to put McEvoy in again. Nolan made the difficult conversion look easy. 33-0
Shortly afterwards, centre Tom Bray left the field with a rolled ankle to be replaced by Titherington. Then, just before half-time McEvoy had his hat trick. Again a scrum near half-way was the genesis – albeit, this time, it was a Pocklington scrum. Pressure from the forwards and Davies together combined to force the Pocklington scrum-half to fumble the ball. Davies pounced and released the Lymm backs who, again, put McEvoy into the space he needed. Nolan again slotting from the touchline, making it 40-0 at the break.
So after 40 minutes, Lymm were 6 tries to the good with each one being scored from distance by one of the back three. In the second half though, it was the forwards who took control of the scoring. At half-time Ashall joined the fray in place of Mullarkey. First, after 43 minutes, it was Watson who scored an excellent try. Lymm’s defence continued to put Pocklington under pressure around their 22 and when the inevitable mistake came, Watson pounced and shrugged off several defenders before showing his own pace to score by the posts. 47-0
Coach Fletcher then made changes giving both Davies and skipper Adam Bray well-deserved rests, bringing back Mullarkey and introducing Woods. As part of this re-jig, Nolan moved into the unaccustomed position of scrum-half and flanker Sutherland moved to the wing as Denman covered for Nolan at fullback.
To be fair to Pocklington they stuck to their guns and, on occasions, notwithstanding losing a couple of players to yellow cards, frustrated the Lymm attack. Lymm did score three tries during the remainder of the half – to Higginson, Ashall and Sutherland – with Nolan converting 2 and taking his personal points tally for the match to 21.
So at 66-0 Lymm equalled their highest ever points total and recorded their biggest margin of victory at this level – a period of 192 matches in total. The combination of speed of thought and deed in attack with a potent defence, is creating a brand of rugby which has the Lymm faithful purring in appreciation.
There are no 1stXV games now until Sat 25th November, when Lymm are away at Preston Grasshoppers, the other unbeaten team in the league, KO 2.15pm. Lymm Head Coach, Adam Fletcher, played for Preston Grasshoppers for a few seasons, whilst at college and living in the Preston area. He commented, “I am looking forward to our game at PGH, in what is probably Lymm’s biggest match for a generation. They are an excellent club, desperate to return to Level 4 following relegation last season. It will be a tough encounter but we also have our sights on Level 4 and are full of confidence.
Squad: 1) Matty Hand, 2) Adam Bray (C), 3) Dan Horton, 4) Matty Connolly, 5) Joe Watson, 6) Sam Mullarkey, 7) Ali Sutherland, 8) Oli Higginson, 9) Andy Davies, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Joe Denman, 12) Tom Bray, 13) James Kimber, 14) Richard McEvoy, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Gavin Woods, 17) Lucas Titherington, 18) Jake Ashall.
Referee: Mr Iain Kiy – South West Group