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1st XV - Match centre

M Loon, C Harvey, J Annetts
J Annetts
Sat 6 Jan 14:00 - Northern Division - Northern Premier Full time

Wirral Mistakes Let in Harrogate

For the first league match of 2018, Wirral travelled for the first meeting between the clubs in Yorkshire.

The contest was at Harrogate’s ‘new’ ground constructed 3 years ago. Harrogate had done much work on the ground to ensure the game was played. It will be recalled that Wirral defeated Harrogate heavily and it was evident talking to spectators and the notes in the programme that they eagerly sought revenge.
In training on Tuesday and Thursday, Wirral suffered injuries to three key players, TOM PARRY (ankle ligaments), RYAN HIGGINSON (shoulder) and JACK YARKER (dead leg and man flu). The props were Chris Hughes and Steve Pendergast with JAMES REEVES coming into the back row, into the second row HAYDN LONG joined MATT DALTON. The subs were Gareth Burkes, Paul Lewis and making his debut, Matt Dowler (ex Caldy).
The match kicked off in bright sunshine and Wirral were quickly into their stride with JAMES REEVES making a break before passing onto Rob Pearl who was tackled well into the Harrogate 20m area, the ball was recycled but unfortunately the ball was knocked on close to the posts. On 10 minutes play was in mid field when a Harrogate kick was fumbled by Wirral and the home team kicked forward and Andrew Lawson, the centre won the race to touch down and was converted by Luke White.7-0 (10 mins). Seven minutes later Wirral were on the scoreboard when the ball came out to Matt Loon 50m out, who advanced downfield and following the ball passing through a number of hands, Matt Loon received again to score in the corner, the conversion just went wide from the touchline. 7-5. On 21 minutes Wirral gave away an easy penalty in front of the posts which was duly dispatched. 10-5.
Harrogate were using the long kicking game with Wirral having to recover from deep positions but generally play was contained in mid field as Wirral also resorted to the kicking game. In the play immediately before half time, a long kick took play down to the Wirral 5m line, where Wirral failed to clear effectively and from this position, Harrogate controlled the ball and mauled their way over the line with a try from hooker, Aaron Yorke. The try was not converted leaving the score 15-5 at half time.
Immediately after the break, Wirral were on the attack and a blind side break saw Mark Williams make progress before passing inside to James Annetts ,who was then tackled 1m from the line, Craig Harvey was on hand to scoop up the ball and dive over to score and was well converted from wide out by James Annetts. 15-12 (42 minutes).
The Harrogate backs were getting more of the ball and their winger was scrambled into touch 10m from the Wirral line. On 50mins Harrogate refused a penalty opportunity and kicked for touch. JAMES REEVES came off injured and was replaced by Matt Dowler. Harrogate took the line out and swift passing down the line resulted in winger, Dave Doherty having an easy run in on the left wing, the conversion was made by Luke White, 22-12. (50 mins). Paul Lewis came on for HAYDN LONG.
Wirral continued to attack but the ball was not running for them until the 55th minute when a short grubber kick was put through for Mark Williams to chase it bounced off a home player, MARK kept back as he was now in an off-side position, however the ball was collected and passed to James Annetts who ran the 15m to score, only to miss the conversion. 22-17. Difficult to believe that this was to be the final try after 55 minutes. Both teams now strove for the try bonus point knowing that kicking downfield was the only way to make meaningful territory on a heavy pitch. On 62 minutes, Gareth Burkes came on for Steve Pendergast.
The only remaining scoring in the last quarter was a penalty by Harrogate to take Wirral two scores away from a win and to miss out on a losing bonus point. Wirral continued to press but could not break the home team defence as Harrogate wound down the time. Whilst Harrogate may feel they avenged their defeat earlier in the season, two of the tries were due to mistakes by Wirral and if Wirral had taken their opportunities it may have been a different result.
Next week Wirral are at home to 2nd placed Lymm, who will be keen to keep up their promotion challenge and reverse the cup defeat a few weeks ago.
Richard McNeil

Quilter Kids First Champions winner – November: Hinckley RFC

Rob Pearl

Player of the Match

Rob Pearl

Key moments

Try Matt Loon scores for Wirral
Try Craig Harvey scores for Wirral
Conversion James Annetts kicks a conversion for Wirral
Try James Annetts scores for Wirral


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80:00 +0:01 Player of the Match
Rob Pearl is awarded player of the match for Wirral
62:00 Sub Off
Steve Pendergast is substituted off for Wirral
62:00 Sub On
Gareth Burkes is substituted on for Wirral
55:00 Missed Conversion
James Annetts misses a conversion for Wirral
55:00 Try 0 - 17
James Annetts scores for Wirral
55:00 Try Assist
Craig Harvey makes an assist for Wirral
53:00 Sub On
Paul Lewis is substituted on for Wirral
53:00 Sub Off
Hayden Long is substituted off for Wirral
51:00 Sub Off
James Reeve is substituted off for Wirral
51:00 Sub On
Matt Dowler is substituted on for Wirral
42:00 Try 0 - 10
Craig Harvey scores for Wirral
42:00 Try Assist
James Annetts makes an assist for Wirral
42:00 Conversion 0 - 12
James Annetts kicks a conversion for Wirral
End of period 1
19:00 Try 0 - 5
Matt Loon scores for Wirral
19:00 Try Assist
Danny Harvey makes an assist for Wirral
19:00 Missed Conversion
James Annetts misses a conversion for Wirral
Start of the game
Replay game

As it happened

  • Harrogate
  • Wirral
  • 0
  • Matt Loon Try 19:00'
  • Danny Harvey Try Assist 19:00'
  • Craig Harvey Try 42:00'
  • James Annetts Try Assist 42:00'
  • James Annetts Conversion 42:00'
  • James Reeve Sub Off 51:00'
  • Matt Dowler Sub On 51:00'
  • Hayden Long Sub Off 53:00'
  • Paul Lewis Sub On 53:00'
  • James Annetts Try 55:00'
  • Craig Harvey Try Assist 55:00'
  • Steve Pendergast Sub Off 62:00'
  • Gareth Burkes Sub On 62:00'

Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

League round up

Other Northern Premier results

Preston Grasshoppers


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League table

# Team Pl Pts
7. Ilkley 25 62
8. Kirkby Lonsdale 26 57
9. Wirral 26 54
10. Kendal 26 53
11. Sandal 26 46
12. Birkenhead Park 26 33
13. Morley 26 31

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