LYMM’S relegation battle is set to go down to the wire as they fell short at home going down 16-21 against Ilkley.
Now firmly at the business end of the season there was a confidence in the air at Beechwood that Lymm could get the vital win that would secure their league status for another year. Games between the visitors Ilkley have however always been closely contested over the years and this was to be no different.
With a cool breeze in the air Lymm started by kicking into the wind. George Norman and Joe Johnson, the latest off the Colts production line, were making their home debuts and at the other end of the spectrum Club Vice Captain, Jordan Widdrington, was making his 200th league start at prop for Lymm. It has to be added that this was by Jordan’s own calculations, but whilst the number may be up for debate what is not is Jordan’s superb commitment and contribution to the club over the years, long may it continue.
Ilkley started by asking the questions but the Lymm defence was good. It was then Lymm’s turn with ball in hand to show what they could do, with centre Ben Stansfield to the fore. The Ilkley defence was equally up to the task. Lymm were however rewarded for their efforts with a penalty. The kick was missed by Tom Shard and it was evident that the first-half wind would not make place-kicking easy.
Even at this early stage it was clear that these were two evenly matched teams playing similar brands of rugby.
On 15 minutes Richard McEvoy had to leave the field with what looked like a nasty shoulder injury, we wish him well. This resulted in a shuffle of the back-line. Andy Davies, who came on as a replacement at Hull 2 weeks ago and had been side-lined with injury since October last year, came on at scrum-half. The impact of Davies’s quick re-cycling was soon in evidence as after good controlled phases by the Lymm pack, Tom Bray was put over in the corner. The conversion was missed, 5-0.
Ilkley came back almost immediately and went over under the post to make the score 5-7. The see-saw then went Lymm’s way and after a number of great phases and interplay, James Kimber jinked over, again the kick against the wind was missed, 10-5. Back again came Ilkley and this time some poor Lymm tackling let the visitors in to make it 10-14.
For the remainder of the half Lymm camped on the Ilkley line but could not get over. White line fever and poor decision making got the better of several players and Ilkley held out to make the score 10-14 at half-time and all to play for. Would Lymm rue the missed kicks and failure to come away with points from the dominant end to the half, only time would tell.
Ilkley started the second half on the front foot and pulled further ahead with an 8 man catch and drive, which took them the whole length of the twenty-two. 10-21 suddenly started to look a handy lead. Lymm edged back with a penalty with the wind, 13-21. The game then entered a phase with Lymm intent on kicking the ball back to Ilkley every time they got possession and Ilkley happily running back hard at Lymm. Whilst the theory of using the wind to pin Ilkley back was sound, the execution was poor. With the crowd baying for Lymm to stop kicking, the home side finally started to keep the ball in hand. James Kimber was prominent and Lymm suddenly looked more dangerous. With the clock ticking down, a further penalty made it 16-21 and hope was in the air for a grandstand finish. Despite valiant efforts however it was not enough, Lymm couldn’t get the breakthrough and Ilkley saw the game out.
The crowd were left with a feeling of what might have been, had the first half-kicks gone over or the end to the first have yielded points, but at the end of the day Ilkley’s defence and Lymm mistakes and decision making at crucial times were probably the difference.
“A pretty disappointing afternoon, which was compounded by the news that our friends from the Wirral, lost at home to our relegation rivals Kendal”, commented Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher.
“The game was a tight and scrappy affair with both teams making errors. Ultimately, Ilkley looked after the ball better than us.
“The result might have been different if we had taken the points under the sticks, just before half-time. But to be fair, at the time the boys thought that there was 5 points for the taking in this match, it was not to be.
“We have to keep training hard, remain confident that we will take points out of our remaining 3 fixtures.
So, Lymm are still far from safe and the season is now likely to go the wire. Today’s losing bonus point may be crucial. Next up is Harrogate at home next Saturday, who are fighting for a play-off place. The match will also be preceded by our past players reunion luncheon.
Team: Gavin Woods, Adam Bray (C), Jordan Widdrington, Matty Connelly, Aaron Rasheed, Joe Watson, James Pitcher, Joe Johnson, Tom Shard, Tom Bray, George Norman, James Kimber, Ben Stansfield, Richard McEvoy, Scott Redfern, Nick Ashton, Rob Makin, Andy Davies.