Saturday 3rd February 2018
VALE of LUNE 2nd XV 7 – 22 LYMM 2nd XV
Report by Mal Pritchard
Outstanding team display puts Lymm top of the league
Lymm travelled to top of the table Vale, for a winners ‘take all fixture’, knowing that only a victory would suffice. Lymm have a game in hand but Vale lead the table by one point and have a superior points difference. Conditions on the vast Vale pitch could described as soft under foot but it was just about playable and fortunately the rain stopped an hour before the game so it could have been worse.
Lymm had a few changes to the side due to the call of the first team and unavailability but fielded a young competitive side. Vale kicked off and Lymm soon showed they were up for the contest as they retained possession and harried Vale into mistakes. Ollie Askew turned over the ball excellently to get Lymm on the attack keeping Vale pinned in their half. It was after a scrum in the Vale 22 that possession was retained and after a change of direction Rhys Jones weighted his kick superbly behind the on rushing Vale defence and the slim line James Robinson won the race for the touch-down to open the scoring with an unconverted try, 0-5.
Vale responded and attacked Lymm through their big forwards and centres but they met an aggressive defence which knocked them backwards. Lymm continued to play the conditions very well, kicking intelligently from the half backs, Tom Baker and Rhys Jones, which kept Vale of the back foot. When Vale got possession invariably they were met with a brick wall or knocked on under pressure.
Lymm returned to the Vale half and from a scrum 20 metres out on the left the backs produced an excellent first phase move for blindside wing Josh Hamer to give the scoring pass to Toby Phillips, who ran a good line and used his pace to score an unconverted try in the corner, 0-10. The rest of half was played in midfield with Vale making little headway against the tenacious tackling of the Lymm side.
Lymm stayed on the pitch at half time as Vale went into the changing rooms. It seemed an age before they came out for the second half but as a spectator commented the referee could have been waiting for the adverts to finish!!
At half time, it was emphasised that the first 15 minutes would be vital, as Vale would come back strongly. The line speed and intensity had to be kept up to keep Vale at bay. However, it was Lymm who maintained the momentum and almost immediately after the restart they hacked through a dropped pass and ended up in the Vale 22. Good pick and drive from the forwards edged Lymm forward and when they released the ball to the backs, Rhys Jones executed a perfect kick pass to put winger Jake Davies in at the corner for a try, which Jones converted excellently, considering the conditions, 0-17.
There was still 30 minutes left so there was no room for complacency, as Vale are a dangerous side with some good runners. Lymm maintained the pressure and after good work down the right, the ball was moved swiftly across the pitch through slick handling by Ollie Askew, Henry Baldwin, Liz Coates and Tim Young. It ended with Kieran O’ Callaghan give a scoring pass to Jorge Reynolds who chipped ahead and won the race for the touchdown for an unconverted try, 0-22.
At 22-0 up Lymm we well ahead but Vale aren’t top of the league for nothing. They rallied strongly and after a series of penalties camped on the Lymm line but tremendous defence lead by Henry Baldwin and Kieran O’Callaghan knocked them back. In the last ten minutes Alex Stewart was sin binned and Vale began pressing as Lymm scrum came under pressure being a man short. Also Lymm lost a little shape and Vale kept pounding away until the referee awarded a penalty try from a scrum, with 3 minutes to go, 7-22.
It was fitting that Rhys Jones kicked the ball of the park to signal the end of the game. He had controlled proceedings excellently, making all the right decisions when in possession, keeping Lymm going forward with his kicking and knowing when to release his backs. Ft 7-22 This was an excellent team effort, avenging the defeat here before Christmas. The team’s attitude and commitment was first class, which showed in the ferocious defence which won Lymm the game. The game management was excellent. It was difficult to name individuals in a good team performance but Rhys Jones and Tom Baker hardly put a foot wrong in difficult conditions and in the forwards Henry Baldwin led the charge showing no respect for his body with a number of thunderous tackles with Kieran O’ Callaghan not far behind.
Next week there is an even sterner challenge with Chester away in the Cup. Chester are top of the Premier League and have lost only one game this season. A repeat performance is required if we are to be competitive but it’s a challenge which we should embrace. Team: 15) T Phillips, 14) J Hamer, 13) J Davies, 12) J Robinson, 11) J Davies, 10) R Jones, 9) T Baker (C), 8) T Young, 7) L Richards, 6) A Stewart, 5) L Coates, 4) H Baldwin, 3) K O’Callaghan, 2) J Pitcher, 1) O Askew. Rep: J Reynolds