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Lymm return empty-handed after long trip to Alnwick

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by Andy Leach

LYMM RUFC returned empty-handed from their long trip north to Alnwick, eventually going down 52-21 after initially leading 18-10 in the first half.

With the scheduled fixture abruptly postponed two weeks earlier as Lymm were enroute due to a late notified positive Covid test amongst the Alnwick ranks, Lymm re-boarded their coach for the 4-hour trip to the extremity of the North Premier League in a positive frame of mind. The closure of the A1 near Morpeth threw a pre-match spanner in the works, resulting in a slight delay in the KO to 3:15. Unfortunately for Lymm, it was not to be the last time that things didn’t go to plan that afternoon.



The Lymm starting XV showed a couple of changes from the previous week – with Rob Makin and Rory Riddell unavailable, Ed Morris and Scott Redfern were promoted with Adam Bray moving from flanker to join the front row. Consequential changes saw Ali Sutherland and Gavin Down, the latter for his First XV debut, join the bench.
As the teams ran out onto the pitch the forecast rain started, intensifying through the match until mid-second half, after which it petered out. A greasy ball seemed on the cards – something that was given credence as Lymm failed to secure the initial Alnwick kick-off. The early exchanges were fairly even with the match largely being played out between the 22s. With Nolan converting an early penalty after 3 minutes and Moir replying for Alnwick a couple of minutes later, after 12 minutes the scores remained locked at 3-3.
It was then that the first telling break of the match was made when Oli Higginson intercepted a loose Alnwick pass on halfway to stride towards the Alnwick try line, being hauled down 10m short. The Lymm support was on hand to recycle the ball and make further inroads before Alnwick infringed. Gregor Watson took a quick tap penalty, setting up prop Kurt Riley who launched himself at the whitewash, falling just short, but Higginson was on hand to reclaim the ball and score the try. Nolan’s conversion from 15m to the left of the uprights was successful. 3-10.
Lymm’s lead was very short-lived. Alnwick’s restart failed to make 10m, but Lymm were then penalised at the resultant scrum. Moir, who had an excellent all-round match, found touch in the Lymm 22 from which Alnwick secured the ball, moving it to the right where right winger, O’Regan, danced through a couple of static defenders to score under the posts. After 16 minutes it was back to level pegging, 10-10.
Nolan then hit the post with a penalty attempt, Alnwick clearing to touch. Lymm scored their second try from the resultant line out when following a strong break by Harry Martin, supported by Ed Morris which put pressure on the Alnwick line, Riley was able to force himself over. The conversion was missed. 10-15 after 22 minutes.
On 30 minutes, Lymm’s captain Tom Bray made a decisive break through the Alnwick midfield, backing himself to score in the corner, but excellent Alnwick cover defence managed to put him into touch by the corner flag. From the resultant play though, Lymm were awarded a penalty which Nolan duly converted. 10-18 after 33 minutes but, sadly for Lymm, that was as good as it was going to get.
Back immediately came Alnwick with centre Burn bursting through a couple of Lymm tackles on the 10m line before showing his speed to outpace the last line Lymm defenders, scoring an outstanding individual try. The simple conversion brought the scores back to 17-18 after 35 minutes.
With the clock nearing half-time, then came the critical phase of play of the afternoon. Following a bout of kick tennis, Alnwick were awarded a penalty which they kicked to the corner, scoring from the ensuing line-out, in defending which the referee adjudged that Adam Bray had committed a professional foul, sending him to the sinbin and leaving Lymm down to 14 for the first 10 minutes of the second half. Moir made an excellent conversion to make it 24-18 at the break.
Two penalties for Moir and one, long-range effort by Nolan had the scoreboard at 30-21 after 47 minutes. Whilst there were no scores for the next short while, Alnwick were starting to dominate. Their scrum looked to be in the ascendancy and their gain line defence was excellent denying Lymm any real “go forward” – whilst Lymm lost the talismanic Higginson to injury. When it did come though, Alnwick’s 4th, and bonus point, try was bizarre. A Moir drop goal attempt was partially charged down by a Lymm defender, propelling the ball in seeming slow motion, towards the Lymm line. Initially it looked like this would be an easy “dot down” for the Lymm defence, but the ball hit the padding at the base of the post, squirting at right angles tantalisingly just over the try line. Nolan’s attempt to diffuse the situation failed, propelling the ball towards an offside Lymm player which allowed the Alnwick centre, Cuthbert, to apply the force needed to the ball to satisfy the referee that a try had been scored. Moir’s sure-fire boot made it 37-21 after 55 minutes.
At this point the Lymm cause looked lost, however, they continued to contest throughout the remaining 25 minutes with Yates, in particular, putting in a herculean shift. Alnwick were growing in confidence and, as the rain abated, started to play a more expansive game. Two more Alnwick tries resulted to wing Egglestone and flanker Fox, the latter from the final play, which combined with a penalty and a conversion from Moir (who accumulated 22 points overall), brought the final score to 52-21.
After the match Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher, commented: “I’m really proud of how we coped with the brutally long journey. The warm-up was full of energy, and we carried this into the match. Unfortunately, we couldn’t maintain this level of energy and to go from 18-10 up to lose 52-21 was disappointing. We are still learning and it’s lessons like today that we need to learn from. We must play the conditions and manage critical points in the game better.
Overall, we’re not overly downbeat and are excited for the local derby match against Northwich next week.”

Picture Tim Martin

Squad:1) Kurt Riley, 2) Adam Bray, 3) James Sherlock, 4) James Yates, 5) Aaron Rasheed, 6) Ed Morris, 7) Harry Martin, 8) Ollie Higginson, 9) Gregor Watson, 10) Tom Bray (c), 11) Scott Redfern, 12) Ben Stansfield, 13) Steve Pilkington, 14) Paddy Jennings, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Joe Higgins, 17) Gavin Down, 18) Ali Sutherland.

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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