LYMM proved too dominant in a local derby at Northwich as they triumphed 7-68.
In stark contrast to last week’s near 200-mile round trip to Alnwick, this week Lymm’s road trip was considerably less challenging as they journeyed the 14 miles to near neighbours Northwich.
This was the first time Lymm had made this trip for a league match since September 2009 when both teams were playing at a lower level. Lymm now in their 12th year in Level 5, entered the match as firm favourites against the recently promoted Stags. As well as the distance, playing conditions were in stark contrast to the previous week, with a pleasant, sunny autumnal day and a dry, flat pitch greeting players and spectators.
The usual factors of shifting availabilities and minor injuries resulted in a number of changes to the Lymm starting line-up. In came Rob Makin, Joe Watson, Kieran Hughes and Rory Riddell replacing Ed Morris, Aaron Rasheed, Tom Bray and Paddy Jennings, whilst there were positional changes in Adam Bray moving from hooker to flanker; Scott Redfern from wing to fly-half; and Ben Stansfield from centre to wing, Adam Bray taking the captain’s armband from brother Tom. On the bench, Liam Connelly replaced Gav Down.
Almost immediately the contrast on the pitch with the previous week was evident as Oli Higginson stole Northwich’s first line out – Lymm having struggled to win even their own line-out ball at Alnwick. A Lymm penalty for a high tackle resulted. Kick to the corner, great throw, great catch, great drive and a great early score for hooker Makin. Nolan added the extras for the first of his 9 successful conversions for the afternoon. 3 minutes gone and 7 points on the board. 0-7
After 11 minutes, following a period of Northwich possession and pressure, Lymm were awarded a penalty, which moved the play back into Northwich territory. This time, having secured the line-out ball, Lymm elected to move through the hands, which they did with precision. A long pass from midfield was then collected at pace by right wing Riddell who made good yards down the flank, beating the last defender with an inside pass to the supporting Nolan who crossed in the corner, before adding the points from the difficult conversion. 0-14
Twenty minutes in and Lymm scored their third try through Joe Watson, finishing off some excellent lead-up play. The genesis was again the line-out. This time though Northwich, having initially won the ball, failed to retain possession, Makin doing exceptionally well to scoop up the loose ball before making a strong run through the Northwich pack. The recycled ball was moved towards the centre of the pitch, where Harry Martin took the ball at pace into Northwich territory, before linking with Steve Pilkington who ran strongly into the Northwich 22 then finding the impressive Joe Watson on his shoulder to cruise the final 15m to score. 0-21.
Fifteen minutes later and Lymm had their 4th, bonus point try. A Lymm attacking line out provided the foundation, before a flat pass to Pilkington, presented the opportunity for him to crash over from about 5m. 0-28.
Unfortunately, just before half-time, Kieran Hughes had to leave the field with what looked like a serious arm injury.
To be fair though, this half-time score 0-28, didn’t really tell the full story as, over the first 40 minutes, Northwich had enjoyed the majority of possession and, indeed, field position but the Lymm defence had been solid and their attack clinical every time they got into the home 22.
Two minutes into the second half and Martin received a yellow card, reducing Lymm to 14 for 10 minutes. Despite this numerical disadvantage, 11 minutes into the half Lymm scored again, this time through Oli Higginson. Joe Watson began the move with a strong run well into the Northwich 22. A scrum in the right-hand corner followed, with the ball again being moved to Pilkington. This time he was unable to reach the try line himself, but the ball was gathered by Higginson who had the reach and strength to break through the last line of defence. 0-35.
As the match progressed it became more open with both sides creating good try-scoring opportunities. Between the 25 and 36 minute mark Lymm added 4 further tries through James Yates and Kurt Riley with Pilkington and Higginson doubling their tallies. Two of these tries started with breaks from his own 22 by Scott Redfern who, on both occasions, found the pitch a few yards too long. However, the Lymm support ensured that his efforts were not in vain. 0-63
Northwich, then got on the scoreboard which was a fair outcome for their endeavours of the afternoon. As the game had worn on, Northwich had on two or three occasions breached the Lymm initial mid-field defence but had run out of either support or pitch or been frustrated by the Lymm scrambling defence. Then as the match was heading to a close, another break and this time the support was sufficient to capitalise on the opportunity with a score under the posts to make it 7-63
Then on the final play, Pilkington registered his hat-trick, finishing off a fine break by scrum-half Gregor Watson, who had enjoyed another excellent match, scoring in the right-hand corner. This time though, Nolan was unable to convert to make the final score line 7-68.
After the match Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher, commented:“Happy to come away with a big result and the 5 points. Local derbies are always tricky and sometimes not pretty – and this game lived up to that. At times we were really good and scored some lovely tries, but also at times we were inaccurate, which lead to a stop-start match. Overall though I’m happy with the win and performance, but recognise we have a huge test next week against undefeated league leaders Otley
“On a sad note, it looks as if Kieran Hughes has suffered a season-ending injury. He has torn his bicep and will require surgery. This was Kieran’s first league start for us, so it’s such a shame to lose him.”
1) Kurt Riley, 2) Rob Makin, 3) James Sherlock, 4) James Yates, 5) Joe Watson, 6) Adam Bray (c), 7), Harry Martin, 8) Ollie Higginson, 9) Gregor Watson, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Ben Stansfield, 12) Kieran Hughes, 13) Steve Pilkington, 14) Rory Riddell, 15) Cormac Nolan, 16) Joe Higgins, 17) Liam Connelly, 18) Ali Sutherland.