Wirral Blown Away in the first Quarter
By Andrew Broadbent
Ilkley dominate the early exchanges as a much changed Wirral side suffered defeat at the hands of the Yorkshiremen.
For the second consecutive home game, this time against Ilkley, Wirral were without 5 key players from last week’s game due to a variety of reasons. The captain’s knee operation has been delayed for a further week but JAMES ANNETTS, JOE MURRAY, ROB PEARL , RYAN HIGGINSON and BEN BROOKS were not available and their places were taken by Ben Cornford
, the versatile Mike Warren
, Keith Mahon
, Danny Light
(making his league debut) and Chris Speed
(moving to the wing) respectively. This allowed a centre partnership of Sam Broadbent
and DAN HARVEY. The Wirral subs were Paul Lewis
(sub prop), Mark Williams
and James Adams
Wirral were playing towards the road, against the wind which was blowing unusually right to left. From the Wirral kick off, the ball went straight out of play giving the advantage to Ilkley, another kick downfield from Wirral went straight into touch and from a line out close to the Wirral line, Ilkley scored through Luke Pearson, not converted- 0-5 (5 minutes). 5 minutes later from another Wirral kicking mistake, Ilkley again had play outside the Wirral 20m and passing down the backs saw Struan Connor easily cross under the posts and converted by Chuckie Ramsay to give the away team a 0-12 lead.
At this stage Wirral had not hand any meaningful possession or the rub of the green from the exchange referee and matters got worse with Jack Yarker
receiving a yellow card for going into a tackle with his knees, seen by many as purely an accident. I can’t comment on the next 3 tries as I was in the field retrieving the match ball only to report by the time I got back that Ilkley had earned their try bonus point through tries by Connor again and Ollie Holtam, one of which was converted. Having gone 0-24 down, Wirral had worked their way downfield and from close range Keith Mahon
crossed wide out, not converted, 5-24 (25 minutes).
This score gave Wirral some impetus and they worked their way down to the Ilkley 20m area and progressed forward and with a 3 to 1 overlap the pass was dropped when the opportunity to score appeared easier. Wirral were finding it difficult to make progress in mid field with keen Ilkley tackling until the ball was eventually released down the backs where Matt Loon
made some 40m into the 20m area zone, the ball was recycled and this led to Keith Mahon
getting his second try, not converted, 10-24. Again Wirral came back and were in the ascendancy with the ball going down the line with a chance of a try but the pass was intercepted by Connor again, who sped some 80m to score under the posts (his hat-trick) to leave the score 10-31 at half time.
Changes were made Paul Lewis
came on for Danny Light
(groin injury), Mark Williams
for Keith Mahon
(shoulder injury). Chris Speed
moved into the forwards. Early in the second half, Sam Broadbent
was sin binned with no adequate explanation to the player or signal to spectators. Wirral although down to 14 took play down to the Ilkley 20m, another penalty which was taken quickly and after pressure on the away line a short pass from Paul Lewis
to DAN HARVEY enabled him to touch down and then convert his own try. 17-34, Ilkley had taken a penalty 2 minutes earlier.
comes on for Mike Warren
, but MIKE was soon back on as Tom Parry
retires with a rib/s injury. Ilkley wing forward is sin binned- reason not known. Again Wirral are back attacking and one of their characteristic drives is halted by the referee on the basis of crossing! Chris Speed
(shoulder injury) was replaced by Keith Mahon
(although injured). There had been a change round in the backs with Mark Williams
playing more of an attacking role and Wirral were looking to score that 4th try and a bonus point but it was not to be. The ball was cleared downfield and a final flurry from ILKLEY and a long pass out to right winger, Will Howarth saw him score wide out, the conversion was missed. Final score 10-39.
Obviously Wirral did not start well with too many early basic errors. On reflection they had opportunities to reduce the gap or on another day perhaps win and clearly with a stronger side would have probably won this match. Wirral are down to 9th and next week are away at Blaydon (west of Newcastle), be prepared for an early start for those who are traveling to support the team.