by Simon Plumb
LYMM were overwhelmed 46-6 by unbeaten and second placed Billingham on a fine sunny day for open rugby.
Having lost twice last season to the Teesside club, Lymm were wary of another tough fixture and so it proved. However, the first twenty minutes were equitable as Billingham took the lead with a successful penalty for not rolling away, after 2 minutes, 3-0. Lymm threatened the home team’s line but the ball was lost in the tackle in a promising move. Full back Cormac Nolan then equalised with a penalty under the posts after 15 mins, 3-3.
Billingham, not for the last time during the afternoon, immediately struck back with a well worked converted try after 18mins, 10-3. Nolan kicked Lymm into an attacking position, using the wind behind him to good effect, but the throw was deemed not straight, negating any pressure that may have been building.
Hooker James Pitcher was then yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on 20m out from his own line. Billingham decided unusually, to take the scrum as opposed to a kick at goal, and clearly felt confident they could take more points from the opportunity. Another penalty and another scrum followed until they scored a try just left of the posts – 17-3 after 26mins with the successful conversion.
In defending the line fly half Scott Redfern took a blow to the neck and was replaced by Alfie Simpson, moving in from the wing, with George Norman coming off the bench, as the flier. Lymm, determined to get on the scoreboard, had another attacking line out but, regrettably and frustratingly, the throw was deemed not straight again.
One team was being very efficient and taking their chances while the other team was not. A final thrust from Lymm also resulted in a knock-on but a second penalty from Nolan just before half time took the score to 17-6. So much more had been on offer but opportunities were just not being taken.
A fresh start can often bring dividends and right winger Joe Senior was put clear after good hands from the backs, but his inside pass to Simpson was fractionally just out of reach, in what was a clear try opportunity. Billingham were not to make the same mistake as the blind side was put clear and he touched down from 30m out, scoring wide out on the left after 48mins. What could have been 17-13 became 22-6 in what seemed like a turning point in the game.
Another well worked 30m try from Billingham’s left winger after 53mins, extended the lead to 27-6 and that appeared to be that.
The game then went from bad to worse for Lymm as Matty Hand, clearly frustrated, was then yellow carded on 60mins. The hastily re-arranged front row were then put under intense pressure at the next scrum, with left winger Norman packing down on the blindside.
The ball squirted out at the back and the Billingham scrum half was faster to react, chipping the ball through to the line to score, where normally the left winger would be defending. 32-6 after 63mins.
Billingham then showed a ruthless streak and pressured Lymm in the dead ball area. The 5m scrum score was inevitable as the No8 simply picked up and barrelled over. 39-6 with the conversion after 72mins.
Confidence for the home team was apparent throughout the game and the marauding tackling gave Lymm very little chance to play their natural, attacking game. A salt-in-the-wound try at the death gave a justified 46-6 final scoreline, as the conversion from wide out went over.
Former colt Josh Hadland debuted at open side for Lymm and was notable for both his tackle rate and quick feet – a talent to watch as the season progresses.
However, too much weight, nous, running ability and efficient execution from Billingham clearly took their toll on what looked like a young and overwhelmed team at times. Adam Fletcher, who has to prepare his squad up for a tough few games in the autumn, was optimistic about the longer term view of the Lymm squad.
‘We were beaten by a very good and experienced team. Any team that comes away with points at Billingham will have played extremely well.
‘The score line isn’t pretty but there’s no need to panic. We have to be more accurate with our skills, be more disciplined and stronger in defence for longer periods. The boys are looking forward to putting things right and we’re confident that we will get the performance required against Rossendale next week.
‘The team is only going to get better as the young boys each week are gaining more and more experience. Josh Hadland, Alfie Simpson and George Norman (all 18) were superb. Also thanks to Joe Johnson and James Rooney for coming across from Newcastle University to help out for the day.’
1. Gav Woods 2. James Pitcher, 3. James Mawdsley, 4. Aaron Rasheed, 5. Joe Watson 6. Matty Connelly, 7. Josh Hadland, 8. Adam Bray (C), 9. Tom Shard, 10. Scott Redfern, 11. Joe Senior, 12. Ben Stansfield, 13. James Kimber, 14. Alfie Simpson 15. Cormac Nolan, 16. Matty Hand, 17. Rory Riddell, 8. George Norman