Wirral's Whirlwind Start Sees Off Wilmslow
By Andrew Broadbent
Running rugby was much in evidence on a fine day where Wirral's first half performance sealed the win.
Following last week’s break for the England v All Blacks game, Wirral fielded a team with fewer changes than they have been having of late. DAN HARVEY took over from BEN CORNFORD (injured at Blaydon) at full back with Matt Loon
returning to the wing in place of the unavailable BEN BROOKS. The centre pairing was Chris Speed
and Sam Broadbent
, MATT DALTON continued at blindside. The substitutes were Danny Light
, James Adams
and the”hybrid” Mike Warren
. The Wilmslow coach was a Wirral Grammar School old boy, Richard Hughes who played for England under 15’s (some 27 years ago approx..) and went on to have a fine playing record.
Wirral played towards the main road and had the advantage of the breeze in the first half. The first 5 minutes saw both sides testing each other with Wilmslow having the territorial advantage until a penalty in Wirral’s favour. This was quickly taken by Chris Crowley
who made the initial break before passing onto Rob Pearl
who drew the full back to put in DAN HARVEY who ran in to score under the posts and converted by James Annetts
. 7-0 (5 minutes). Wirral used the wind intelligently with long kicks downfield from but didn’t capitalise on the field position. Mark Williams
made a 40m run downfield and passed onto MATT DALTON although tackled got the ball away to Mark who put in Ryan Higginson
who crashed over in the corner, the conversion just failed, 12-0 (11 mins). In the next 10 minutes it was all Wirral who had three further chances to score but were perhaps too eager and in one case had a clear 2 on 1 situation but the pass was not made.
It was not until the 25th minute that the third try came when the ball was passed out wide on the right and MATT DALTON was on hand to score wide out and James Annetts
made the conversion from the touchline. 19-0. Three minutes later came the try bonus point when a long kick downfield was fielded by Wilmslow who looked to counter attack and put in a kick over the advancing Wirral line, this was collected by Chris Crowley
who broke the tackle of the kicker and sped through from 20m to score and again converted by JAMES. 26-0. Wilmslow were seeing very little of the ball as Wirral used the wind to make ground and then contain the away side in their half. Good interplay by Wirral took play down to the Wilmslow line and after several thrusts at the whitewash, MATT DALTON crossed for his second try which was not converted, 31-0 (33 minutes).
A fine break from MATT DALTON was made and whilst looking for support did not notice the Wilmslow tackler and was unceremoniously dumped to the ground, from this position Wilmslow were awarded a penalty and Matt Loon
was sin binned for not being 10m back, seemed to be harsh given the few penalties in the match. The final try of the first half came from a Wilmslow attack where the ball was turned over by Rob Pearl
and spun out right where Chris Crowley
showed a good turn of speed to go round the left winger and then outpace the covering Wilmslow defence to run some 65m to score and again converted by James Annetts
to leave the score 38-0 at half time.
Wirral made 3 substitutions, Mike Warren
for Paul Lewis
, DAN LIGHT for Jack Yarker
and James Adams
for James Annetts
with Mark Williams
moving to full back and DAN HARVEY to fly half. Within 2 minutes of the start, Wirral scored again when JAMES REEVES scrambled over close to the posts and conversion was from DAN HARVEY, 45-0. Wilmslow with the wind advantage now had a period of territorial and possession advantage and for a time they were pressing the Wirral line, this eventually paid off when the sub Sam Graham crossed over the whitewash from short range but the try was not converted. 45-5 (63 minutes). At this stage further changes were made when Paul Lewis
and Jack Yarker
came on for Ryan Stead
and James Reeve
A further try was denied to Wirral when the referee gave a forward pass but after further pressure in the Wilmslow half the ball was spun wide and Rob Pearl
put in Matt Loon
for a walk in and he ran round close to the posts and the conversion came from DAN HARVEY, 52-5 (72 minutes). The match was played out with Wirral on the attack and looking for further points but it was not to be.
Wirral coach, Dan was pleased with the team’s performance as they met all the objectives he had set the team before the match and with a more settled side looks forward to the rest of the matches in 2018. Wirral have moved up to 9th and had been expecting 8th but for Alnwick’s surprise win at Harrogate. Next week the first team are away at Kendal and there will be spaces available on the coach for anyone wishing to travel to the game.