by Simon Plumb
AFTER the highs of beating Macclesfield, Lymm came back down to earth as they were defeated 17-10 by old rivals Sandal.
On a crisp, fresh day with blue skies above Sandal, an ideal day for playing running rugby was in prospect. The pitch had some autumnal growth and seemed ready for its last cut of the season but the omens appeared good for a mid-league Lymm team who were facing a side, depleted of key players moving to more senior clubs, placed third from the bottom.
Indeed the first half went to plan for Lymm’s coaching team, although to lose eight first-team players from the squad in the week’s build-up, was always going to present problems on the pitch.
So it proved, despite Lymm’s first half domination territorially and from a possession perspective. An early penalty to Sandal gave them a 3-0 lead after the first minute but Lymm set their stall out with a kick to the corner for an attacking line-out. Missing so many key personnel meant the visitors’ line-out failed to function effectively all afternoon and it proved to be their undoing.
However, in this instance Lymm’s pressure was building despite a try-scoring opportunity from an attacking scrum being wasted due to a knock-on, with the tryline beckoning. Another attacking scrum was followed by a series of forward surges until the ball was moved wide out to the left for winger Ben Stansfield to score in the corner – 3-5 after 15 mins.
Now it was Sandal’s turn to apply pressure and their free-flowing backs looked to be in several try-scoring positions until poor passing let them down on numerous occasions. The Sandal full-back Adams, an elusive runner all afternoon, was causing all sorts of problems but continuously had the ball kicked to him. Lymm then had sustained attacks on Sandal’s try line but lacked the cutting edge that has been their hallmark all season to date. It was to prove costly as the first half came to an end, 3-5.
Both sets of backs then had a period of poor handling and neither could break through. Another attacking line-out from Lymm looked promising until the maul collapsed and Sandal were awarded the scrum – pressure relieved. There was a lack of precision to Lymm’s play which, in turn, gave Sandal an opportunity to build pressure and confidence. Lymm suddenly
looked to be back their old selves, as full back Cormac Nolan broke through but was tap-tackled 10m out. A succession of missed attacking line-outs followed and Lymm’s confidence was dropping by the minute.
As Sandal attacked up the right, a ball was ripped by a Lymm player with the ball going backwards. The subsequent knock-on by another Lymm defender was picked up by Sandal and second rower Thompson, playing with the advantage, scored 15m in from the touch. The subsequent conversion took the score to 10-5 after 55 mins. The belief in the home side soared as they scored again on 74mins with an unconverted try, 15-5.
In relative desperation, Aaron Rashid, Lymm’s lock then scored a well worked try as the game came to a close giving a final score of 17-10, in what can only be described as a dis-spiriting display from Lymm, in a game they could and should have won.
‘Another Jekyll & Hyde performance,’ commented Head Coach, Adam Fletcher. ‘Yes we did have a lot of unavailability from the Macc game but I know other clubs are dealing with the same issues. The landscape, post Covid lockdown is so different. On top of our lengthy injury list; Weddings, birthdays and weekends away that were postponed, are still having an impact with selection. Unfortunately for us this week they all happened at once.
‘We dominated possession in the first half but where we were clinical last week, we were the opposite this week. We had a number of opportunities but through poor execution and decision making we didn’t take nearly enough. In fairness to Sandal they defended their line well and also looked sharp in attack.
‘The longer the game went on with the score staying the same, the more Sandal grew into the game. We then tried to force the game a little and made continuous errors. Bad day at the office but we dust ourselves off ready for Billingham,’ concluded Fletcher.
Team: 1. Gav Woods, 2. Rob Makin, 3. James Sherlock, 4. Aaron Rasheed, 5. James Yates, 6. Matty Connelly, 7. Harry Martin, 8. Josh Hadland, 9. Gregor Watson, 10. Scott Redfern. 11. Ben Stansfield. 12. Liam Connolly, 13. Steve Pilkington, 14. Richard McEvoy, 15. Cormac Nolan, 16. Gav Down, 17. Joe Higgins, 18. Rhys Lilly.