Wirral KO'd by KL
By Andrew Broadbent
A depleted Wirral continue to Struggle.
When we left Wirral on Saturday morning the pitches were beginning to show puddles due to the incessant rain which had been falling for some hours but by the time we got to KL the rain had stopped and we found the KL pitch in excellent condition.
Again there were a number of changes to the side, Chris Hughes
came in for JACK YARKER, this being the only change in the forwards since last week although Chris Tyson
played even though he had chicken- pox, which shows the depths the club have had to go in order to get out a recognisable first team. James Annetts
returned to the side at fly half with Mark Williams
going to full back. With CRAIG HARVEY rested to improve his fitness we had a new centre pairing of Matt Loon
and KIERAN SWEENEY with the wingers being Adam Sheldon
and Mark Gidman
. The subs were the veterans Steve Pendergast
and Tim Hodson
along with HAYDN LONG.
For the first 5 minutes of the game Wirral kept play in the KL half and were rewarded with a penalty by James Annetts
, without kicking tee.0-3 (5 minutes). KL quickly responded when from a position within the Wirral 20m area, KL scrum half and captain, Ben Walker dummied to pass out but went himself and to score the first try, which was converted by Ryan Terry. 7-3 (9 minutes). For the next 15 minutes, KL were looking to score at every opportunity as the penalty count mounted against Wirral with three more tries, none of which were converted. The first from a scrum 8m out and a quick feed to the winger Huddleston enabled him to squeeze in at the corner, the next from a scrum 5m out and a pick up and dive by the No8 Galbraith. In the meantime another try was prevented with a KIERAN SWEENEY interception but having made some 30m kicked ahead to relieve the pressure. Immediately after KL scored their third try, a fourth try and bonus point was added when collecting the ball from the kick off and good handling and a break resulted in the length of the field try to leave the home side ahead 22-5 after 24 minutes.
Wirral had been in possession of the ball for short periods but the ball was being lost on too many occasions. Gradually Wirral were in a position to halt KL who were looking to play expansive rugby and retain the ball for a number of phases. A penalty to Wirral enabled James Annetts
to find touch some 55m downfield, 5 m from the KL line. Controlling the line out ball and with a maul towards the KL line being halted, the ball was sent right where a long pass from James Annetts
enabled Matt Loon
to beat his man and score 15m from the posts and this was duly converted by James Annetts
, 22-8 (38 mins). KL had time to attack again and another try was thwarted with a forward pass and thus ended the first half.
The second half started with KL missing an opportunity to score when dropping the ball in front of the posts. From deep in their half, Wirral counter attacked and made ground with a strong run from Adam Sheldon
and this was followed by good passing which took play up to the KL line, the ball came right and well taken passes enabled James Annetts
to put in Mark Williams
for a try close to the posts and James duly converted. 22-15 (46 minutes). At this stage HAYDN LONG came on for Chris Tyson
but within a few minutes, HAYDN had to come off having suffered a nasty gash to the eyebrow which will need some several stitches. Tim Hodson
came on for Haydn.
A long kick downfield was misfielded by Wirral- name withheld- but this put Wirral under unnecessary pressure. At this stage Wirral were still in the game only one converted try behind but the team suffered a further injury with scrum half, Joe Murray
going off with a leg injury to be replaced by prop, Steve Pendergast
. This meant Tom Parry
moving to scrum half and Ryan Higginson
to back row, in effect now playing with 4 props in the pack.
Wirral although depleted with a number of personnel playing out of position held their own for 10 minutes until a kick downfield enabled KL to counterattack, from which they eventually scored to lead 27-15 after 31 minutes. During the final 13 minutes KL ran in 3 more converted tries although tries were being scored as KL, in particular No 7, were taking players out of the game, although none of this was seen by the referee, he did however see a high tackle by MATT DOWLER on a KL player and he missed the closing stages of the game with a sin bin.
Whilst the first team squad has suffered an unusual high number of injuries in the last three/four months it is imperative all players continue to make themselves available to play for their respective teams in order that Wirral can field their strongest and best teams. The losing run of the first team is the longest seen for some years and can only be remedied by players training together and being available for selection, notwithstanding there is only 3 more matches this season.
Next week is the club’s last home game of the season when Rossendale are the visitors with the last league game the following week at Pocklington. The Cheshire Vase final is now to be played on Tuesday 24th at Chester against Sandbach.