Report by Neil Allen
LYMM were looking to bounce back following last week’s defeat to Preston Grasshoppers and duly did as they triumphed 10-3 over Harrogate.
Harrogate lying fourth in the table and with promotion ambitions were however no pushover. The wet weather added to the intrigue and with Lymm in the midst of Pantomime season anything could happen. Oh yes it could!
Lymm were missing the influential Olli Higginson following his injury at Preston. Dispatches are that things are not as bad as first feared and he hopes to be back in the new-year. Other than that, Lymm were at full strength with Aaron Rasheed and Richard Halford earning bench spots following good performances for the second team.
The game started with Harrogate going through the phases and Lymm getting into their defensive work. The tables were then turned with Lymm probing and Harrogate showing their defensive capabilities. From this early stage it was evident that these were two closely matched teams. Lymm continued to struggle to get into their game as the pace of the Harrogate rush defence disrupted Lymm’s flow. On 20 minutes Lymm were however rewarded for their pressure with a penalty which was dispatched by Cormac Nolan for a 3-0 lead.
Harrogate then began to see more of the ball and their driving maul started to cause Lymm problems. With 5 minutes remaining Harrogate were justly rewarded for their efforts with a penalty to square things up at 3-3. With Lymm’s lineout creaking and the Harrogate forwards beginning to turn the screw things were looking ominous for Lymm as half-time loomed.
The jury was out on whether the half had been dour or absorbing but what was clear was that Lymm needed to up their game.
In an effort to get things moving coach Adam Fletcher rang the changes, emptying the bench and bringing on the young guns; Matty Hand, Rasheed and Halford.
Almost immediately Halford began to have an impact as Harrogate employed the strange tactic of kicking to the 6ft.4in Lymm winger. This was to be the pattern of the second half with the excellent Lymm back three of Halford, Nolan and Joe Denman collecting everything with aplomb and making good yards to set up attacking platforms. Most of the action was now taking place in the Harrogate half and Lymm were certainly playing with more intent and creativity, but the speed of the Harrogate line continued to mean Lymm could not get away. As the rain came down and the temperatures dropped, mistakes crept in for both sides and it was becoming increasingly difficult to see where the break would come.
Finally with 10-minutes to go Sam Mullarkey ran a great line to crash over under the posts, Nolan added the extras to make it 10-3. The weather now deteriorated. Harrogate threw themselves at
Lymm but the defence stood firm and Lymm saw the game out. This was a hard fought but deserved victory based on the now customary defence and an improved second half performance.
Lymm coach Fletcher commented. “Really proud of how the boys reacted to the disappointment of the Preston game and ground out the victory.
“We showed a different side to our game today, our normal fluent attack play was stifled by Harrogate’s aggressive defence and work at the breakdown. We had to show patience, kick the ball more than we normally do and back our defence to force mistakes deep in their territory.
“Special praise to the back three, I thought they relieved pressure brilliantly, tight head prop, Dan Horton, had a great game & the bench had a real impact.”
Lymm are now resolute and can win different games in different ways. So the Lymm bubble remains intact and as far as the league goes, watch out Preston, we’re still right BEHIND YOU! Next Saturday, Lymm travel to 6th placed Ilkley, KO 2.15pm.
Squad: 1) Gav Woods, 2) Adam Bray, 3) Dan Horton, 4) Joe Watson, 5) Matty Connelly, 6) Jake Ashall, 7) Ali Sutherland, 8) Sam Mullarkey, 9) Andy Davies, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Joe Denman, 12) James Kimber, 13) Tom Bray, 14) Richard McEvoy, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Matty Hand,
17) Aaron Rasheed, 18) Richard Halford.