Wirral 2nd Half Comeback Not Enough
By Andrew Broadbent
With another loss to finish the league season, the First XV must now focus on the Cheshire vase on Tuesday night.
With work commitments, holidays and having one eye on Tuesday’s, Cheshire Vase Final at Winnington Park against Sandbach, coach MATT CAIRNS again had a headache in putting out a competitive team against relegated Pock. Captain, CRAIG HARVEY was not available as his wife, Chrissie presented him with a second daughter (Poppy) on Friday and the family are making good progress.
The team was therefore: 1. Jack Yarker
2. Stuart Gratton
3. Chris Hughes
4.Haydn Long 5. Chris Tyson
6. M. Dalton 7. Matt Dowler
8. Paul Lewis
9. Josh Stead
10. James Annetts
12.Sam Broadbent 13. Dan Harvey 14. Chris Speed
15. Ben Cornford
SUBS: Tom Parry
, Ryan Higginson
and Joe Paton
The match was played on a well grassed hard pitch with Wirral having the wind advantage in the first half on their first ever visit to Pock.
From the kick off, Wirral regained possession and with the aid of a penalty made progress to under the Pock posts only to give away a penalty, which took play a long way down field. From Pock’s first meaningful possession they penetrated the Wirral defence only to knock-on with the try line at their mercy. Although winning the scrum Wirral failed to clear and then with a penalty against them, Pock went for the 5m line out instead of kick for goal. Although Wirral cleared, the ball was still in Pock’s possession and then missed another opportunity to score- the writing was on the walls at this stage. After continuous possession, Pock scored the opening try through captain; Jonty Peters when slicing through the defence, the conversion was missed. 5-0 (11 minutes).
Wirral were very much on the back foot and it took them a further 15 minutes to get back into the Pock 20m area but there were too many adventurous passes trying to be made instead of controlling the ball when in possession. After this pressure Pock went down field and scored a second try when scrum half, David Davidson went scooting in and scoring under the posts, Christian Pollock converting. 12-0 (30 minutes). Within 5 minutes, Pock were back in the Wirral 20m area and a third try was scored from a 5m line out with a simple catch and dive over. It was apparent at this stage that Pock could score at will with the score now 19-0. Ryan Higginson
and Tom Parry
came on for Chris Hughes
and MATT DALTON respectively. Before the players had time to attune to the game, a break by Pock enabled them to score their bonus point try under the posts to leave the score at half time 26-0.
MATT DALTON came on for HAYDN LONG. By the attitude at the start of the second half it was apparent that very strong words had been said by coach, MATT CAIRNS as for the first time, Wirral were looking to make ground when in possession with Tom Parry
, Matt Loon
, Matt Dowler
and Chris Speed
being particularly prominent. Playing much better, Wirral were rewarded with accurate passing allowing Matt Loon
to cross close to the corner flag with James Annetts
converting. 26-7 (45 mins). Despite playing against the wind Wirral were enjoying the territorial advantage and with pressure on the Pock line, Jack Yarker
was awarded a try, duly converted by James Annetts
. 26-14 (57 minutes). Four minutes later a break with handling by a number of players should have resulted in a try but the final pass was not made and then a penalty resulted allowing the home side to clear downfield. Whilst the turning point of the game was Wirral’s performance in the first half, the second half turned when Wirral were again attacking but a loose pass enabled the Pock fly half, Christian Pollock to intercept and have a clear run to the line, some 55m, although the conversion was missed this was quickly followed by a penalty from 20m out, which extended the Pock lead to 20 points, 34-14.
Wirral had not given up, when awarded a penalty in front of the posts, elected for a scrum and on winning this a long pass from James Annetts
saw Matt Loon
in at corner for his second try and a another touchline conversion from James Annetts
, 34-21. Although Pock had an opportunity to score again the ball was dropped and Wirral counter attacked through James Annetts
and a pass to Matt Loon
set him off down the left wing only to be taken out with a straight arm and only a yellow card to the Pock flanker. Wirral elected for a 5m line out which they won and a forward maul resulted in Paul Lewis
scoring (bonus point try) followed by another good conversion from James Annetts
Wirral had expectation of another sensational win in the dying minutes and although winning the ball from the kick off then conceded a penalty, the Pock coach called for a penalty, the captain went for a 5m line out and were rewarded with a try from close range with the last play of the game which was also converted to leave the score 41-28 in favour of Pocklington.
It was a different Wirral in the second half but they must look to control the ball more when they are in possession, certainly the substitutes made a difference when they came on and one looks forward to seeing a Wirral team with a fit squad to select from. Certainly if the performances seen in 2018 had been repeated for the full season then we would have certainly been in the relegation places and this must be a wakeup call for summer training and the 2018/19 season.