Wirral edged Out By Rossendale
The result could have been different but Wirral lose last home game to an in form Rossendale.
For the last home game of the season against Rossendale, Wirral again made a number of changes to that which had played at Kirkby Lonsdale last week with some of the injured on their way back.
In the backs, Craig Harvey resumed at fly half, JAMES ANNETTS returned to full back duties, the centre partnership was DAN HARVEY and Sam Broadbent with the wingers being Mark Williams and Matt Loon. Jack Yarker came back in at prop with James Reeve returning to the back row. The subs were Tim Hodson, Steve Pendergast and Chris Hughes (not the youngest set of subs!).
Wirral played towards the road and the early territorial advantage was with the home side but on the first occasion Ross had any meaningful territory, a kick to touch gave them a presence in the Wirral 20m area. Although it was Wirral’s throw in, this was lost and Phil Mills ran in from 15m to score for the away side and this was converted by Lewis Allen, 0-7 (8 mins). For the next 10 minutes all possession was with Ross and play was in the Wirral half. Another opportunity to score was missed when the final pass missed the winger.
Gradually Wirral worked their way into the match and by controlling the ball made progress, a kick through was kicked dead by Ross and given the 5m scrum, Wirral pushed the opposition back over the line and MATT DOWLER touched down for his first try for the club, the conversion was missed, 5-7 (21 mins). Wirral did not help their own situation by firstly kicking the ball dead for a scrum back some 60m and then kicking the ball straight out, thus quickly giving Ross possession in the Wirral 20m area. Wirral contained the Ross attacks until two swift passes enabled Phil Mills to run in for his second try, converted by Lewis Allen. 5-14 (29 mins).
This was followed by Wirral containing the away side in their own 20m area, a clearance kick was charged down but the bounce was not in Wirral’s favour. Eventually cleared to 20m out, where a line out catch at the back of the line was well caught and swiftly out to Craig Harvey where a long pass to JAMES ANNETTS who took it on the burst enabling him to beat the tackler and score wide out. He converted his own try. 12-14 (37 mins). The half, finished with Wirral again applying pressure to Ross.
The second half commenced with Wirral retaining possession but not able to make progress against the Ross defence and any half break was lost when the next pass did not go to hand. Ross broke out of the Wirral half with a break which left James Annetts having to make a last ditch tackle to stop the attack. From this position, the Ross pack mauled forward to the line where they were awarded a try by Jack Wilkinson, much to the astonishment of the Wirral pack and try was easily converted. 12-21 (54 mins). Tim Hodson came on for Paul Lewis. A break by James Annetts set up Mark Williams only for the winger to slip a couple of metres short of the line. The ball was spun right, Matt Loon was held up 1 metre short, as was Ryan Higginson but controlling the ball Ross were held on their own line, Craig Harvey was stopped but twisted round in the tackle to touch down. A conversion from the touch line by James Annetts made the score 19-21 (54 minutes).
Ross came back with a change in tactics by kicking long downfield seeking territory advantage and benefitted when Wirral were penalised and from the resultant line out close to the Wirral line mauled their way over the line with the try being awarded to Jack Wilkinson for his second try, this was not converted. Chris Hughes came on for Ryan Higginson. Three minutes later, Ross extended their lead with a break and George Peel ran in to score close to the posts and the conversion pushed out the Ross lead to 12 points, 19-31 (62 minutes).
Wirral continued to attack and another break by James Annetts set up Matt Loon who ran through to score under the posts only for the ball to be knocked from his hands in the act of touching down. The home team were eager to attack and were awarded a penalty which they wished to take quickly but the Ross captain failed to release the ball, this led to a melee which could have been avoided if the referee had acted more quickly. As a result two players were red carded, the Ross captain Dominic Moon and the Wirral flanker, James Reeve with a yellow card for Craig Harvey. (68 minutes). Steve Pendergast came on for Jack Yarker.
Wirral were now on top, pressuring Ross but when the opportunities came, too many balls were being dropped. Ryan Higginson went on for Joe Murray, with Paul Lewis moving to scrum half. In the space of 3 minutes, Rossendale had a further 2 players sin binned, full back, Curtis Strong and scrum half, Harrison Moulding, reducing the game to 13 v 12. From a penalty 50m out, James Annetts took this quickly, kicked over the defence, caught the ball on the bounce only to be tackled a couple of metres short. Wirral progressed only to be deemed as being held up over the line. Wirral retained possession and earned their try bonus point when Matt Loon deservedly crashed over close to the posts with JAMES ANETTS converting. 26-31, much as the home side pressed for a further try it came to nought and a further penalty enabled Ross to kick the ball off the pitch in a half which had lasted some 49 minutes.
With some of the first team squad back after injury this was a match given the chances created that could have been won with greater control when in possession and improved discipline in reducing their penalty count for technical infringements.