For the long away trip to Hull, Wirral had to make a number of changes from the team selected and from that which played in the opening game. All the changes were in the backs- SAM BROADBENT (thigh); MARK WILLIAMS (knee) and BEN CORNFORD (hamstring) were all out injured. There was a new centre partnership in DAN HARVEY and BEN BROOKS with JAMES ADAMS making his debut on the wing. JAMES is at Leahurst Vet College and previously played for Wiveliscombe (L8 Somerset 1). The subs were RYAN STEAD, JOHN HARRIS and MIKE WARREN, the latter having returned to the club.
The game started in light rain which gradually increased during the game. Hull took the lead in the first minute when there powerful winger, Stephen Hihetah received the ball some 45m out and in open play and his powerful run and missed tackles took him through the Wirral defence to score in the corner, the conversion was missed. 5-0 (1 minute). Wirral soon realised that defence was going to be the priority given this early score and bearing in mind the heavy defeat they suffered here last year. It was also apparent that the Hull defence would be difficult to break down but as the game proceeded, Wirral came more into the game. On 24 minutes both MATT LOON and JOE MURRAY were tackled close to the line and after two 5m scrums, Wirral gave away a penalty to ease the pressure on the Hull line.
Play was held in mid field as Hull looked to break the Wirral defence through their powerful back division but tackling from the Wirral back row was keen and held the home team at bay. The second try in the first half was somewhat fortunate as the ball ricocheted off a Hull player which gave them field position 50m downfield, 10m from the Wirral line. From the second of the 5m scrums, Hull went blind and Mike Adlard scored in the corner. To us on the far side it seemed a fair try but observers closer indicated that the ball had been dropped in the act of scoring- the conversion was missed. 10-0 at half-time.
The second half started with the Hull second row being yellow carded for taking MATT DALTON out at the line out with a neck tackle when at his fullest height- there was a delay in proceedings- at any other level should this have been red. On 47 mins RYAN STEAD came on for PAUL LEWIS and 5 minutes later, JACK YARKER was yellow carded for picking up the ball which had squirmed out of play close to the Wirral line, seemed to be a harsh decision, thus PAUL LEWIS had to come back on to play front row with JAMES REEVE being sacrificed. At the next play, PAUL LEWIS himself was injured so JOHN HARRIS came on with RYAN STEAD going to prop. Despite the pressure, Wirral to their credit held out and finally cleared. A Hull attack was broken up as DAN HARVEY went for an interception but the young referee deemed this to be a deliberate knock on and DAN was sin-binned (another harsh decision)- Wirral down to 13 players for a short period of time.
On 72 minutes, Wirral got on the scoreboard with a penalty from 20m out by JAMES ANNETTS and should have had another when TOM PARRY was taken out off the ball. A further penalty opportunity was missed when the other Hull second row was sin binned for a dangerous tackle. Hull then awarded a penalty on the half way line and they elect to go for goal to protect their win and Simon Humberstone duly obliged to extend the Hull lead to 13-3. The final minutes of the game saw Wirral pressing but could not breakdown the Hull defence and a drop kick attempt came to nothing.
Given the changes to the Wirral team from last week’s game and with Hull getting off to a flying start in this game this was a good performance by this make shift Wirral side also bearing in mind that they suffered two big defeats by Hull last season and since then Hull have strengthened their side as seen by the comments in their programme as they look to again finish in the top two. It was perhaps unfortunate that Wirral did not take anything from this game and on another day with more consistent refereeing decisions then they may have got more out of this game.