Report by Neil Allen
LYMM travelled up the M6 to Kirkby Lonsdale, which despite its beautiful surroundings is a venue which has not been a happy hunting ground over the years and Saturday was to prove no exception, when most of what could go wrong did go wrong.
With injuries, falling foul of the referee and the famous Cumbrian weather all conspiring to make it a day to forget and with far bigger issues than sport facing the world it probably will be. Much of the chat before the game was about the expectation that this could be the last game of rugby for some time, with coronavirus very likely to draw a veil over the season.
To the game itself, Lymm started brightly enough in dry and firm conditions but it took only 5-minutes for Lymm to lose scrum-half, Tom Shard who dislocated his shoulder. Cormac Nolan moved to scrum-half, with Ben Stansfield coming on at full-back, the first of several back-line reshuffles. Lymm had plenty of territory in the early exchanges but could not capitalise, as the line-out malfunctioned and the referee seemed intent on penalising the men in green at every opportunity.
Kirkby Lonsdale started to grow into the game and one of the many penalties was finally in range for the excellent Kirkby Lonsdale full-back to slot, to make it 3-0. Worse was to follow as errors and wrong options made it difficult for Lymm to get any continuity. On 20-minutes Kirkby Lonsdale took advantage to score, making it 8-0.
At this point Lymm’s game disintegrated and Kirkby Lonsdale seized their opportunity, going over again to make it 15-0. Lymm were poor during this period and Kirkby had their tails well and truly up. A spark was needed but instead Lymm suffered a further set-back as stand-off Scott Redfern had to leave the field, with what looked like a knee injury. Ben Stansfield moved to stand-off and Oli Higginson to the centre. Lymm had just about re-organised when the Kirkby Lonsdale centre ghosted through under the posts to make it 22-0. At this point the home crowd were talking about cricket scores.
To Lymm’s credit they ended the half the stronger and finally found some continuity and control for Oli Higginson to release Nathan Beasley out wide for the winger to score. With Cormac Nolan adding the extras the half finished at 22-7.
A big improvement was needed in the second-half and things started brightly enough with Steve Pilkington making a bullocking run, the first of many in the second-half, which was just held up inches short. For the remainder of the half Lymm were camped in the Kirkby Lonsdale 22 but could find no way through, a mix of excellent Kirkby Lonsdale defence and Lymm errors kept the scoreboard resolutely stuck.
Lymm were far better in the second-half but with the weather closing in and unfamiliar half-backs, couldn’t find the necessary craft or grunt to open up the home side. The game became increasingly scrappy and even with Kirkby Lonsdale going down to 14 men courtesy of a yellow card, Lymm could find no way through.
With 10-minutes to go, a dropped ball from Lymm provided the opportunity for Kirkby Lonsdale to venture into the Lymm half for the first time and sure enough they scored to make the score 29-7 and secure the bonus point. Lymm came back and finished the half as they had for almost all of it, pounding at the Kirkby line. Finally, with the home side again reduced to 14 men for a further yellow card infringement, Cormac Nolan went over to make the final score 29-14.
Kirkby Lonsdale fully deserved their win, with the 30-minutes period in the first half sealing Lymm’s fate and leaving them far too much to do.
The second half display at least ensured Lymm left with some credit, but if this is to be the season finale it is not the way Adam Fletcher and team would have wanted to bow out in a season where the young team have developed a great style and played some excellent rugby.
“Not a great day up in Cumbria”. Commented DoR Adam Fletcher. “Ultimately, our defence and accuracy weren’t up to the standards that they need to be. We let KL off the hook numerous times and they taught us a lesson today in being clinical.
“Injuries to key personnel didn’t help us but we still had enough ball and territory to come away with something. On the plus side I thought we battled hard and showed Great Spirit throughout. Big credit to Ben Stansfield, he played out of position today on 3 occasions. He did really well.
“Who knows if this will be the last game of the season? We will prepare as normal for Harrogate next week. Obviously health and safety is priority but it would be nice to have the opportunity to put a few wrongs right next week”.
Next week Lymm are at home to Harrogate, who are very much in the promotion race and will probably hoping that the game is played. We will have to wait and see what decisions are made by the RFU for leagues below the Premiership.
Team: Jordan Widdrington, Adam Bray, Gav Woods, Aaron Rashid, James Yates, Matty Connelly, Oli Higginson, Joe Watson, Tom Shard, Scott Redfern, Nathan Beesley, James Kimber, Steve Pilkington, Ben Stansfield, Cormac Nolan, James Pitcher, Nick Ashton, Ali Sutherland.