Saturday 26th January 2019
RFU NORTH PREMIER LEAGUE
Kendal 11 – 10 LYMM
Report by Andy Leach
Errors win out over honest endeavour
Lymm travelled north on the M6 on Saturday to face Kendal in what had become a key match in the battle to avoid relegation, with Lymm, one place above the drop zone, a mere 7 points and two places above their Cumbrian opponents. Consequently, this was likely to be a cagey affair between two teams who were both desperate for points yet low in confidence.
Following injuries to Rick Halford and Ali Sutherland sustained in the previous week’s victory over Wilmslow, Lymm made a couple of changes to their match day squad, with Cormac Nolan returning after his own injury lay-off and Tom Baker joining the bench.
The conditions that greeted players and spectators at Kendal’s Mint Bridge ground had been fine and rather breezy. However as the clock ticked to the 2:00 KO time, the weather began to close in and, as the players made their way onto the pitch, the rain began and never stopped. The glorious Lakeland hills disappeared into the murk and conditions became thoroughly unpleasant – eliminating any prospect there might have been of a fast attacking game. Points were bound to be in short supply and small factors were likely to have a big impact on the outcome.
Lymm kicked off with the wind at their backs and in short order both teams had opened their error count as the conditions and nerves came into play. In receiving the ball, Kendal immediately handed it back to Lymm, only for the Cheshire side to spill the ball a few phases later – thereby giving the initiative back to their hosts. Three minutes into the match the referee awarded Kendal the first penalty following a Lymm offence at the breakdown, the resultant kick to touch presenting Kendal with a perfect attacking platform. Although Lymm successfully thwarted the first attempt at a rolling maul, in the subsequent phases they were adjudged to have transgressed again. This time Kendal elected to take the points on offer, easily slotting the kick from 15m out. 4 minutes into the match and Kendal had their noses in front. 3-0
After 10 minutes it was Kendal’s turn to offend, with Shard putting the penalty deep into the Kendal 22 to give his forwards an excellent platform from which to build. They did not disappoint, as the initial driving maul from the line out was patiently built on with a series of forward drives crabbing forward and across the pitch until, a few phases later, Matty Connolly was driven over the line, just to the right of the posts – making the conversion a formality for the reliable boot of Tom Shard. 12 minutes gone and Lymm were up and running. 3-7
Lymm probably shaded the next short period, but errors at crucial times negated their attempts to make significant inroads into Kendal territory. Then, on 17 minutes, Lymm made the error which gifted Kendal their try. Having stolen possession from a Kendal line out, about 35m from their own line, the pass from the Lymm forwards to scrum-half Shard was too imprecise, allowing a Kendal forward to intercept and narrowly win the foot race to the Lymm try line, scoring right in the left-hand corner. A self-inflicted wound only slightly soothed by the failed attempted conversion. 8-7
Other than a simple Kendal penalty on 35 minutes, the remainder of the half was both gritty and dogged, with neither side asserting any sort of dominance over their opponents. Lymm seemed to be having the better of the set-pieces (of which there were many!) whilst Kendal were probably making more yards when they did have possession. Having said that, due to the conditions, both teams were turning to the boot more often than not in an attempt to win the territorial battle.
Half Time: KENDAL 11 – 7 LYMM.
With the weather closing in all the time and conditions under foot becoming more difficult, the second half was even more dour than the first. There was no shortage of endeavour by both teams but errors crept in on a regular basis to frustrate efforts to build momentum. After 52 minutes Lymm were awarded a penalty 30m out which Shard converted to narrow the gap to a single point. 11-10
In the remainder of the match, with the conditions at their backs, Kendal certainly had the better of the field position but defences were definitely on top. Then on 75 minutes, Kendal were reduced to 14 men when one of their forwards was shown a yellow card for a high tackle. This seemed to galvanise Lymm who then played, probably, their best and most adventurous rugby of the match.
Now they were making strong inroads through forwards and backs alike, with the Cumbrian defence becoming more desperate as the seconds ticked by. Then, with the final whistle looming, Lymm made great progress, building on strong line busts by Joe Watson and Matty Hand, into the Kendal red zone for the first time since their earlier try. A few phases later and Lymm were over the Kendal line, but the referee ruled that the ball had been held up. With Lymm’s man advantage and a scrum that was definitely in the ascendency, the prospects of a score from the resultant 5m attacking scrum looked good – however in looking up to the far corner of the pitch it appeared that the players were shaking hands – unbeknownst to the vast majority of spectators, that had been the last play and the match was over!
Another case in Lymm’s season of ” close but no cigar” – immensely frustrating for players, coaches and spectators. In the final knockings of the match Lymm had shown real endeavour and enterprise but, disappointingly, had not come away with the 4 points for the win that was badly needed – as much for confidence as their position in the league table.
Full Time: KENDAL 11 – 10 LYMM
After the match Coach Millington, having dried off and warmed up, offered these reflective thoughts:
“Firstly, we can’t fault the effort and determination applied by the lads today. But we must cut out the careless mistakes and panicked decision making that ultimately combines to seriously hurt us at the moment. It took until the 80th minute, with nothing to lose for us to play without the fear that has consumed us for much of the last few games. In the end we were unlucky not to steal it at the death. The boys will continue to work hard to rectify these things and, as a coaching group, we must find a way, very quickly, to allow them to play with that fearlessness for 80 minutes.
“I know that the lads would like to give thanks for the great support we received today, especially in view of the horrible conditions. This means a great deal to us.”
Lymm will now have a week’s rest before entertaining Kirkby Lonsdale at Crouchley Lane on 9th February, KO 2:15.
Team: 1) Gav Woods, 2) Adam Bray (c), 3) Jordan Widdrington, 4) Matty Connolly, 5) Aaron Rasheed, 6) Jake Ashall, 7) James Pitcher, 8) Joe Watson, 9) Tom Shard, 10) Tom Bray, 11) Cormac Nolan, 12) James Kimber, 13) Ben Stansfield, 14) Luke Richards, 15) Scott Redfern, 16) Rob Makin, 17) Matty Hand, 18) Tom Baker.