Report by David Fernyhough
LYMM secured a much needed five point win as they defeated Vale of Lune 24 – 33 at the weekend after a little ray of sunshine from the late Eric Morecambe.
A number of Lymm supporters made a detour to Morecambe, en route to Lancaster, where they paid respects to Eric Morecambe and requested that he bring some sunshine to the Lymm performance. So, was the pilgrimage worthwhile?
The weather was perfect for rugby and the supporters, sunshine and the temperature in double figures. However, a low winter sun and a fairly strong breeze blowing directly down the pitch from the clubhouse end, could cause a problem for both teams.
After last week’s poor performance against Kirby Lonsdale, the mood in the club house was hugely downbeat. Players and spectators alike saw it as a defeat that seriously jeopardised Lymm’s position in the league. Coach Fletcher and his team deserve enormous credit for breaking free of this leaden pall to inspire their boys to bounce back against fellow relegation strugglers Vale.
The improvement in motivation, belief and effort was evident from the start when Vale got themselves in a muddle in their own 22, and Richard Halford was able to seize on this and give Lymm an immediate lead after 2mins, Shard converted, 0 – 7.
Lymm then created another opportunity, with Jake Ashall and others bashing holes in the home defence and offloading crisply to their team mates. Centre, Stansfield, was the man on the end of the last pass and he finished well, with the Vale defence strewn behind him. However the touch judge saw a forward pass infringement in the build-up that the ref missed and the try was disallowed. (More of the influence of the touch judges later!)
Lymm’s defence was looking more like the all motion beats it had been last season, largely influenced by players on the edges continuing to be alert and mobile, even when the ball had moved away from them. The returning Richard McEvoy embodied this approach. Vale were struggling to make any ground, even with a strong wind behind them, as Lymm’s defence shut them down.
Vale were to score soon after though as wayward handling on half way saw Lymm loose possession. The Vale number 7, Jordan Dorrington, seized on the fumble and scorched away to score in the corner, 5 – 7. The conversion was missed.
This lapse didn’t put Lymm off their stride and they continued to make ground into the Vale half. Shard missed a penalty after 20 minutes but soon their efforts were to be rewarded. After more Vale struggles to clear their lines, with kicks going straight into touch and Lymm’s defence squashing any offensive threats, Lymm scored again. Ashall and James Kimber again created gaps in Vales line with direct, aggressive running. The ball reached McEvoy who nearly crossed the line, but Shard then cleverly exploited the space that had been left on the left wing where lock forward Aarron Rasheed collected the pass and rolled over the line. The strong wind thwarted Shard’s conversion attempt 5 v 12.
As the half-time whistle approached, Lymm continued to pile on the pressure. McEvoy, Kimber and Rasheed would all be involved as Lymm once more crossed for a try, however this too was disallowed for a forward pass. However, Lymm were soon back battering at the home try line and eventually Scott Redfern crossed with Shard adding the extras despite the strong wind.
Half-Time 5 v 19
Lymm were looking good for a convincing win with their suffocating defence being matched by incisive offense. Scoring a try soon after the interval further boosted confidence. Winger Halford managed to collect a Lymm kick and broke free but was hauled down 5 metres out. The Vale line out was a bit wild and Rasheed was on hand again to capitalise and take the score to 5 – 26, with Shard’s excellent conversion.
An audacious kick by prop Gav Woods set up Lymm’s next score. With Lymm continuing to take possession off their rivals, and number 8 Joe Watson driving them forward, gaps were opening behind the Vale line. Woods’ kick was picked up by a Vale defender on his 22 who passed inside but the ever alert Halford intercepted to run in under the sticks for his hat trick, converted again by Shard, 5 – 33.
Then the game changed!
Due to the importance of this game regarding its impact on the relegation battle, independent touch judges had been appointed. They seemed to being enjoying being in microphone contact with the referee and decided to talk to him at every opportunity. They must have been lonely, which was a shame as the fans of both sides would have been only too glad to chat to them. Regardless, the end result of their constant nattering was a blizzard of yellow cards against Lymm players in the final 20 mins. McEvoy, Redfern, Chilvers, were sat down for a while.
Vale took full advantage of Lymm being down to 13 and cleverly exploited the resultant gaps to start a recovery. Each time Lymm got a player back another left the pitch as in some bizarre version of the Hokey Cokey. And similarly each time Lymm went a further man down, the Lancastrians used their game smarts to take full advantage. They scored 3 more tries by Chris Ramwell x2 and Sam Wallbank, gaining a four try bonus point. Damon Hall converted 2, bringing the final score to 24 – 33.
Lymm finally had a full team back on the pitch, at which point their defensive poise returned and the secured a much needed 5 point win. So Eric Morecambe was delighted with the result, the team brought him and the Lymm supporters some welcome sunshine.
There is no 1st team match next week, their next game is on Saturday March 2nd at home to Alnwick, KO 2.15pm. However, Lymm 2’s do play next Saturday, away to Sale FC 2’s, KO 2.15pm.
Final score: 24 – 33
Team: 1) Gav Woods, 2) Adam Bray (c), 3) Jordan Widdrington, 4) Matty Connolly, 5) Aaron Rasheed, 6) Jake Ashall, 7) James Pitcher, 8) Joe Watson, 9) Tom Shard, 10) Tom Bray, 11) Richard McEvoy, 12) James Kimber, 13) Ben Stansfield, 14) Richard Halford, 15) Scott Redfern, 16) Dan Horton, 17) Cashell Chilvers, 18) Tom Baker.