An Away Win at Last!
By Andrew Broadbent
Wirral beat Vale of Lune by the narrowest of margins to record their first away win of the season.
The comments re last week’s game remain pertinent with the final outcome in doubt until the final whistle in the gloom when it was difficult to distinguish one side from another.
We set off from Clatterbridge in fine weather, although I appreciate the rain made an appearance later in the morning but it was apparent when we got to Lancaster that it had not stopped raining there for some time.
Again Wirral had to make a number of changes, DAN LIGHT continued to stand in for JACK YARKER, ROB PEARL was unavailable so MATT DALTON came back into the back row, Paul Lewis
joined Ryan Stead
in the second row with James Reeve
moving to No 8. In the backs, BEN BROOKS and CHRIS SPEED were unavailable due to a family wedding and injury respectively and their places were taken by James Adams
and John Harris
. Tom Parry
was captain for the day. The subs were Mike Warren
, Chris Hughes
and HAYDEN LONG (who has returned back to rugby and had had a couple of games in the seconds).
Wirral kicked off against a strong breeze but unfortunately this did not go the required 10 metres, which immediately put Wirral under pressure and play was soon concentrated outside the 20m area. In the 2nd minute VOL had the opportunity to take the lead with a penalty from 25m out but this was missed to the right. For the next few minutes all the possession was with VOL but the Wirral defence was holding out until the VOL centre, Jordan Dorrington split the defence and raced in unopposed from 60m out to score with the try being converted by Darren Hall. 7-0 (13 mins). As with previous matches, Wirral gradually worked their way into the game and made progress up field and after 20minutes were awarded a penalty in front of the VOL posts and DAN HARVEY converted, 7-3.
Despite the weather both teams had good passages of play with numerous phases but territory gains were not great. VOL were pressing some 30m out when their move was intercepted by Paul Lewis
who was shocked to see the try line some 70m ahead but was gradually caught and the pass to the eventual support went astray. Play was now being concentrated in mid field with VOL reluctant to use the wind relying on their backs to make breaks. On 28 and 36 minutes Wirral had penalty opportunities but both missed in the heavy conditions where the rain was incessant. On 35 minutes Chris Hughes
came on for DAN LIGHT (calf injury). On 38 minutes VOL were denied a try (forward pass) but in the last play before half time a break some 60m out by VOL left them with a 3 on 1 overlap situation and Olly Jacques scored some 10m from the posts but the conversion was missed, which would turn out to be important when viewed against the final score line. 12-3 at half time.
During the break we were wondering if the light would hold out as it was quite difficult to see across the pitch and 10 minutes was taken for the break with Wirral out waiting for the VOL team to appear. The game restarted and immediately VOL were into their stride with another potential try disallowed for a forward pass. On 50 minutes, two substitutions made HAYDEN LONG and Mike Warren
came on for Paul Lewis
and John Harris
(injured). A break by Chris Crowley
brought play down into the VOL 20m area where the release of the ball was delayed by VOL flanker, Sam Wallbank which led to a yellow card, from the resultant penalty DAN HARVEY reduced the arrears to 12-6 (53 minutes). 5 minutes later, Sam Broadbent
was sin binned for what was presumed to be a high tackle and the third yellow card was issued 2 minutes later against the VOL fly half, Ben Dorrington. By this stage the pale sun had come from behind the clouds and one could view the game easier. The Wirral forwards were holding an advantage over their opposite numbers. Another half break by Chris Crowley
to 35m out where he kicked forward and appeared to be late tackled however the ball was taken by VOL in front of the posts but the Wirral chasers pinned the opposition in front of the posts and eventually a penalty in Wirral’s favour and given that the VOL pack were one down, Wirral took the option of a scrum. The scrum was taken and the Wirral pack pushed VOL back and it led to them conceding a penalty try, 12-13 (65 minutes).
The Wirral were now on top and not allowing VOL to make the territorial gains and were counter attacking and now making yardage, with time ebbing away Wirral were controlling the ball for a number of phases whilst any possession gained by VOL they were looking to spread wide in the hope of making ground into the Wirral half. A steal at the line out by Tom Parry
enabled him to gain some 30m downfield before being held. John Harris
came on for Chris Crowley
and then the forwards controlled the final 4 minutes by pick and go until the final relieving whistle was made. A very hard won victory but the team showed great resilience to bounce back from that half time deficit to enable them to move up to 6th in the league. They will need to be more clinical next week against league leaders Hull when hopefully some of the injured players will be available for selection.