Wirral Team: Ross Hughes
, Nigel MERITT, Liam
KEANE, Sean BROMSGROVE, Kieran McKENZIE, Mike LUM, Richie WILLIAMS, Daz SINNOTT, Phil Tollady
, Jack Davey
, Simon Hignett
, Dave Longford
, Mike Van Der ZWAN, Neil Luxton
, Neil Kenyon
Another week, another host of changes, I am not sure what happened this week, but the injuries to higher teams has had a catastrophic effect on the lower teams. As such 15 good men and true headed off to table topping Warrington assured of a tough afternoon. (When has it ever been anything but at The Wire?) Once the introductions were made the formalities commenced with a minutes silence for a fallen friend of Warrington.
The game kicked off, Warrington had by all appearances, a well prepared, well drilled, fit looking squad of more than enough players. The Wirral 15 were filled with determination and a large dose of trepidation no scope for injuries, no one to run the line.
Appearances, though, can be deceptive. Thoroughly good driving play, great support and accurate handling forced Warrington under their own posts during the opening exchanges. I say exchanges, but to be completely one eyed it was all Wirral.
Minutes in and we thought full back Neil had squeezed in the corner to open the scoring. The referee, amiable, larger than life, but not quite up with play decided otherwise and Warrington thought they had got away with it, wrong! Another thrust at the heart of the home defence and Ritchie WILLIAMS (winger in the pack producing another barnstorming performance all over the park) crashed over for the opening score, a slightly skewed conversion attempt left the score at 0-5.
Here comes the fight back, err no actually, Wirral gain ground pinning Warrington back in their 22 a solid set piece (astonishing really given that none of the forwards were front rowers, the one front five was a second row propping, and the rest were back rowers/backs pushing for all they were worth) and a deft piece of half back play set Mike VDZ running a line O'DRISCOLL would have been proud of 0-10. Conversion somewhat easier this time and a shell shocked Warrington had to kick off again. 0-12.
The game settled into a pattern with stout defence from Wirral repelling most of what Warrington had to offer. They were clearly used to playing together and their size and preparedness began to show. Nevertheless the scores to Warrington only managed to gain approximate equilibrium by half time. (Forgive the lack of detail Jack managed to knee me in the head and my recollection, may have been affected).
A much needed half time break gave us the chance to regroup, pass out the plaudits then try to prepare for the second half onslaught.
Wrong again, from the kick off we managed to secure the ball and slide right, leading to a line break, history to repeat? Alas no, the reliable Warrington tackling scrambled the defence and the opportunity was gone. Still no quarter was given and scores remained well spaced and hard earned. A kickable penalty to Wirral took score to around mid 20s-15. That was to be the last Wirral score, but not the end of the possession or position.
Pressure on the Warrington break down gave opportunities to attack, a tackle to touch in the corner on the right wing and some attacking line outs down the left gave respite from the repeated attacks and reminded Warrington we weren't there only to make up the numbers.
20mins into the second half and the valiant Wirral few were starting to running on empty, something Warrington had expected, shouts of "They'll tire" sounding more like "How can they keep this up for so long?" So it was that the last quarter gave a dramatic change to the scoring with replacements and sheer physicality carrying Warrington into the distance giving the final score that may just prove decisive in winning the league.
Make no mistake this was no embarrassment, Wirral gave everything and more, scored good tries and tackled their hearts out. What a tribute to those players not used to this level of rugby, or opposition of such size power and pace (yes they did have some old gits who liked to play in the Warrington ways of old....you know who you are if you are reading!) Mention must be made to the referee and to Warrington themselves who realised the predicament we faced in the forwards and whilst the scrums were contested a good degree of sense prevailed, with sore necks, but no serious injury.
This may sound like an account trying to put a gloss on a proper spanking, but I cannot stress enough the effort put in and how even a contest this game was for long periods.
Without detailing each player (and making this report even longer) I cannot single out any one player for special praise. In the best traditions of Wirralian rugby all concerned will know they have played this weekend, but should stand proud. In the words of Max Boyce (sorry Leighton) "I was there".