Report by Rob Sparkes
AN injury ravaged Lymm were outclassed by league leaders Hull as they went down 10-56 at Crouchley Lane.
Both sides entered this game with very mixed fortunes. Hull lie regally top of the table with just the one defeat to their name, while Lymm are in eleventh position and are in the midst of a lengthy and persistent injury crisis.
Such is the shortage of squad players, there was even a suggestion that club stalwart Jim Knowles was contemplating a comeback. Alas the octogenarian was unable to find his trusty size fourteens, and thus some much younger talent was chosen to wear the green, white and black shirts of Lymm
With nineteen 1st team squad players currently on the injury list, there have been many calls made on players from the 2nd XV, today was no exception. Matt Hill, Tom Baker, Josh Davies, James Pitcher, Richard Halford and Henry Baldwin were called to the colours. Lymm 2nd team play in the Halbro, Cotton Traders Premiership League, which apart from Vale of Lune 2’s, comprises the 2nd teams of Level 3 & 4, National League clubs. Unfortunately, the injury list had now stretched too far and the club had to concede the 2nd team match away to Fylde 2’s.
Lymm 3rd team is essentially a veteran’s team with a hard core of 40+yrs old players. There is a huge difference in standard between Halbro Premiership and 3rd Division South League. So, with all due respect to our 3rd team players, many who have played 1st team rugby in the past, no 3rd teamers could be considered to move up to the 2nds for H&S reasons, or our injury list would have stretched even further. However, the Halbro League rules expect this to happen, so Lymm 3rd team, who played Village Spartans at home, had to concede the result as an away walkover. Surely ‘common sense rules’ should apply here.
An M&J’s Guard of Honour greeted Gav Woods, wearing the Captain’s arm band, as he led the patched up team out onto the ever immaculate playing surface at Beechwood. It was a sunny, dry afternoon with a cold wind developing and a sizeable home crowd were there in support.
Mr Elliot Lewis blew the whistle to start the game and within just 2 minutes the Lymm supporters knew that it was going to be a tough 80 minutes. From their very first possession of the ball, Hull were able to spin the ball to their left wing [a ploy that was to occur quite often]who was, with some ease, able to beat the defenders before moving the ball inside for their scrum-half to touch down near the posts, the conversion was good, 0 – 7. From the restart Lymm managed to put some pressure on Hull, a kick was well fielded by fullback Cormac Nolan, just outside his 22, who put in a fine, angled kick to the corner. From the 5m lineout, Lymm stole possession but their attack was halted by a Hull infringement, and up stepped Nolan to slot the resulting penalty, 3 – 7 after six minutes.
However, immediately following the restart Hull were themselves awarded a penalty. Their kick to the corner was accurate, and although Lymm thwarted the line-out drive, from an ensuing scrum, the ball was again fed to the left winger, who touched down wide out on the left, followed by an excellent conversion [the Hull kicker went on to achieve a magnificent 100% accuracy with his kicking], 3 – 14.
Within a few minutes, Hull scored their 3rd try. A penalty, kick to the corner, and this time the line-out was better. A well controlled rolling maul took the Hull pack over the line for a try and conversion, 3 – 21.
Possession for Lymm was at a premium and quite sporadic, resulting in few inroads into the Hull 22, however on one rare incursion they were only stopped by a string of continuous Hull infringements, resulting in the showing of a yellow card to a Hull forward. Alas, in a move that followed, the ball was spilled and Hull cleared their line, in what was to be the only real try scoring chance for Lymm in this half.
The remainder of the first half saw Hull enjoy an overabundance of possession, gained via their more sizable forwards. From this, they were able to supply their fleet-footed and elusive backline with an extensive tenure of the ball to go through their plethora of moves. This possession, plus some abject tackling, resulted in Hull scoring a further three tries in this half. Each one being successfully converted to produce a depressing looking3-42 half-time score.
By the start of the second half the sun was slowing sinking in the sky, as were the hopes of the Lymm faithful, who were expecting another forty minutes of desperation, anguish and gloom. Some were even being scathing about avoiding a record home defeat. And as the second half got under way, they may have had some justification for this dismay, as Hull were able to score a further brace of converted tries to stretch their unassailable lead, 3 – 56.
But, during this time, and for the remainder of the match, the Lymm players had started to demonstrate some fighting spirit and greater resolve. Yes, two tries were conceded, but Hull had been pushed much harder to achieve these. The tackling that had been found wanting in the first half, was suddenly more competitive, more robust and quite unyielding. Also possession became more evenly spread, and with a much-needed injection of greater pace in both speed-of-thought and movement, the last thirty minutes had Lymm in the ascendancy. In fact such was the desperation of the Hull defence, that they had at one time two players absent due to each being carded, one of them a red.
And then the moment of the match, that gave the home crowd much to cheer about. Following a period of Lymm possession around the half way line, the ball found its way to Kimber out near the left wing, he was able to slice diagonally past Hull defenders towards the Hull 22 where he and James Pitcher executed an adroitly performed scissors, which resulted in Pitcher bursting one tackle and then swerving effortlessly past the fullback to score a fabulous try under the posts. The conversion by Nolan was added, 10 – 56.
The remaining ten minutes saw Lymm enjoy more possession and put some good attacking phases together, though no further score accrued.
Whilst the Lymm faithful had been downcast at halftime, their mood had changed somewhat by the end of the match. They had seen that the Lymm team had played against a better drilled team, a team who will no doubt retain their top of the league position for some time. However, what was also evident was that the approach of the Lymm players [from one through eighteen]which had been exemplary. From being ‘under the cosh’ for long periods, they never gave up, and in the second half in particular, showed a doggedness and resolve in character throughout. The injury crisis has resulted in many more 2nd team players and indeed some Senior Colts, getting 1st team games, more than one would expect at this stage of the season. This experience will be of great benefit as the season progresses and hopefully the injury list shortens.
Lymm Team: 1) Gavin Woods (C), 2) Cashel Chilvers, 3) Jordan Widdrington,
4) Matty Connelly, 5) Henry Baldwin, 6) James Pitcher, 7) Aaron Rasheed,
8) Matty Hands, 9) Tom Shard, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Luke Richards, 12) Ben Stansfield, 13) James Kimber, 14) Richard Halford, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Josh Davies, 17) Tom Baker, 18) Matt Hill.
This week Lymm are making the trip to the team just one place above them in the league – Ilkley.