Report by Rob Sparkes
FOLLOWING the sizeable defeat the previous week by table-topping Hull, Lymm lost out 20-18 to a late penalty at Ilkley, who prior to kick off sat just one place above them in the table.
For this game Lymm were able to welcome the return of Captain Adam Bray and the ever versatile Ali Sutherland to the match day squad, plus the inclusion of the up-and-coming talent of Senior Colt, Joe Senior on the bench.
Thus with the weather in West Yorkshire being kind – it was a dry afternoon with sunny interludes and only a slight, but cool, breeze, With the pitch looking in a fine verdant condition [though the grounds staff had been over generous with the insertion of several spurious additional white lines!], both teams were anticipating and hoping for an open, fast game of rugby.
Early possession was enjoyed by the home team, and within just 5 minutes of the start, their elusive and guileful scrumhalf first dummied to pass then sped through the first line of Lymm defence to score under the posts. The conversion was surely a foregone conclusion, however, the Ilkley kicker decided to adopt, what was to become a less than reliable approach to place kicking and duly missed, 5 – 0.
The following 10 minutes saw Lymm starting to come more into the game, a break by Kimber took Lymm into the Ilkley 22, where unfortunately, possession was lost to the scrambling, home defence. Though soon after, Lymm were awarded a penalty for an offside in the midfield. Up stepped the ever reliable Cormac Nolan, to slot over the kick, 5 – 3. A period of play then ensued, where both teams enjoyed spells of possession, but were unable to make it count due to the increasing ability of losing the ball in either the tackle or via some shocking handling. After 19 minutes, Ilkley, through some very good interplay, manoeuvred themselves into the Lymm 22, where declining a kickable penalty, they again broke through in the midfield and scored. The conversion was again missed, 10 – 3.
Whilst the amount of possession was generally shared by both teams, it was Ilkley who proved to be more effective with their share. Another fine break by their scrumhalf was only stopped by an excellent tackle in the corner. The home pressure continued and eventually they did break through, to score their third try of the half, and again it was under the posts. This time their kicker was more reliable and kicked the conversion, 17 – 3.
With the first half rapidly coming to an end, Lymm were able to mount one last attack. It was fluent and involved both forwards and backs in some good interplay, but eventually came to a disappointing end when the ball was somehow knocked-on with the opponents’ line just inches away. So the first half ended, an error strewn half where despite a parity in possession, Lymm were all too often unable to retain the ball in the tackle and develop attacking phases to test the Ilkley defence.
Half-Time: Ilkley 17, Lymm 3.
Into the second half and Lymm started to increase their share of possession, and they were able to create several good breaks, notably by Richard Halford, who had by then moved from the wing to the centre position. Following one such break, Lymm were awarded a penalty. Nolan duly slotted the kick, 17 – 6. Soon after, saw another excellent break heading for a certain try in the right hand corner, only for the last pass to be knocked on with the try line begging.
Two guilt-edged opportunities missed, in what was to become a desperate attempt to overcome the deficit on the score line. Then on 57 minutes a glimmer of hope. The Ilkley tight head prop received a yellow card for a scrimmage infringement, and now Lymm had a numerical advantage for the next 10 minutes. And they took it. Increasing possession, better handling and support play, took another attack into the Ilkley 22. A penalty kick to the corner, line-out won and following a couple of mauls, the ball goes out wide to Luke Richards, who is able to reach out for the line and score. A tricky conversion is unfortunately missed. Score, 17 – 11.
Twenty minutes to play and still with the man advantage, Lymm continue to press. An Ilkley attack falters, the ball is re-gathered by Lymm who spin the ball out. There follows [another]break by Halford, who has prop Gavin Woods in support, who trundles over from twenty metres out. The conversion this time is in front the posts and is duly converted. 11 minutes of playing time remains, 17 – 18.
So fifteen unanswered points and the lead is now with Lymm. The remarkable comeback has occurred. Just need now to continue to dominate possession and to avoid any unforced errors. Alas, within minutes, following a missed tackle, Ilkley have broken through to the Lymm 22 and are rewarded with a penalty. It now remains for the erratic Ilkley kicker to redeem himself for his earlier failures. This time he is successful, 20 – 18.
The last 8 minutes continue to see Lymm enjoy the majority share of the possession, and with it the territorial advantage. During this period, Lymm suffered yet another injury to a player, when Aaron Rasheed had to be taken off with a leg injury. In the however through an increasing sense of urgency and desperation, their play leads to more handling errors closing minutes, Lymm piled on the pressure but eventually again lost possession, allowing Ilkley to kick the ball off the park to secure their win as Mr Bloomfield blew his whistle.
Final score: Ilkley 20, Lymm 18.
“Our 1st half performance left us with a little too much to do”, commented Coach Fletcher, “but saying that we had enough opportunities to win the game.
“We showed some real character in the 2nd half to get back into the game and scored two, well executed tries. Unfortunately our defence in the 1st half was nowhere near up to the standard of this league. This time last season we had the best defensive record in the league.
“On the positive side, we are moving in the right direction and slowly getting injured players back fit and in training. Bring on next week”
A losing bonus point means that Lymm remain in eleventh place in the league, though now some seven points adrift of the team in tenth. More disconcerting is that two of the teams below Lymm, both had wins at the weekend and are now just six points behind. So some potential worrying times lay ahead for Lymm as they strive to keep clear of the relegation zone.
Next week Lymm have an even longer away trip to Harrogate, KO 2.15pm. As always travelling supporters are much appreciated.
Lymm Squad: 1] Gavin Woods, 2] Cashel Chilvers, 3] Matty Hands, 4] Matty Connelly, 5] Zak Lythgoe, 6] James Pitcher, 7] Aaron Rasheed, 8] Adam Bray (C) 9] Tom Shard, 10] Scott Redfern, 11] Luke Richards, 12] Ben Stansfield, 13] James Kimber, 14] Richard Halford, 15] Cormac Nolan, 16] Jordan Widdrington 17] Ali Sutherland, 18] Joe Senior