Report by Neil Allen
LYMM failed to ease relegation fears as they were beaten 23-34 by mid-table Wirral in the first fixture of the new year.
A couple of encouraging performances at the turn of the year meant expectation was high and hope was in the air that Lymm had turned a corner and could begin to climb the league in 2019.
With Wirral lying in mid-table this was the type of game that had to yield points if Lymm were to climb out of the relegation zone.
A routine win to signal in the new-year was all that was required, simple? In terms of the team news Tom Bray was injured at training on Thursday, meaning a first team competitive debut for Ali Wealthall.
The game started and Wirral clearly hadn’t read the script, after a cagey opening the away team began to assert themselves, strong direct running and some powerful forward surges saw Lymm on the back foot. On 5 minutes Lymm were penalised in desperate defence and Wirral scored out wide. With the extras added it was 7-0 and not the start to the new-year that had been hoped for. Lymm made some progress and were rewarded with a Cormac Nolan penalty but Wirral responded immediately as the re-start was charged down, which lead to a simple run in to make the score 12-3. Lymm again responded with a Nolan penalty to hang onto Wirral’s coat tails.
As the half-progressed Wirral upped the intent and Lymm appeared increasingly passive and frenetic, not helped by yellow cards to Richard Halford and Jake Ashall. Lymm were now dropping of tackles, which allowed a try under the posts, 19-6 to Wirral and only 20 minutes on the clock.
Finally, Lymm started to get ball in hand and gain some territory, a good move saw Matt Connelly just unable to hold onto the ball as he crossed the line. Lymm were rewarded with a penalty for their good end to the half and perhaps with it a glimmer of hope, the half-time whistle blew at 19-9.
Any optimism was extinguished almost immediately, a dropped ball from the kick-off set up a Wirral attack and the bonus point score for the way team, 24-9 meant an uphill battle. Lymm attempted to mount attacks but any breaks were static and in ‘one’s and two’s’ and Wirral’s defence was more than up to the task, any glimmers of hope were snubbed out as Lymm players became isolated and turned over.
In contrast, when Wirral had the ball their running was strong and direct and Lymm had no answer. The away teams 5th and 6th tries followed in quick succession as Lymm’s defensive shape disintegrated, 34-9 with 20-minutes still to play and Lymm were looking at a heavy defeat.
To Lymm’s credit they did not give up and the game ended with the home team on-top. Two yellow cards for Wirral enabled Lymm to end the game by crossing the line twice, courtesy of Jordan Widdrington and Tom Shard, but by then it was all too late.
A chastening defeat for Lymm and not the start to the new-year that everyone had hoped for. As for corners turned, Lymm are now well and truly stuck in a relegation cul-de-sac. Things do not get any easier, with next up Blaydon away.
1) Gavin Woods, 2) Adam Bray (C), 3) Matty Hand, 4) Matty Connelly, 5) Joe Watson, 6) James Pitcher, 7) Jake Ashall, 8) Ali Sutherland, 9) Tom Shard, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Luke Richards, 12) James Kimber, 13) Richard Halford, 14) Ali Wealthall, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Jordan Widdrington, 17) Will Baldwin, 18) Joe Senior