The spectators, past players and coaching staff are trying to come to terms as to how Wirral contrived to lose this match and then by such a score line. Granted the club have suffered a number of injuries at first team level, which has seen both regular props injured/unavailable plus a second row and back row out of action for a few more weeks.
Following the match against B.Park last week there were a number of changes, some positional and the team was as follows: 1. Dan Light 2. Stuart Grattan 3. Chris Hughes 4. Ryan Stead 5. Paul Lewis 6. Haydn Long 7. Tom Parry 8. James Reeve 9. Joe Murray 10. Craig Harvey 11. Matt Loon 12. Chris Speed 13. James Annetts 14. Dan Harvey 15. Chris Crowley Subs: Mike Warren, Sam Broadbent and Mark Williams.
Wirral were playing towards the road with the breeze in a diagonal direction towards the clubhouse/2nd pitch. The first quarter was played between the 20m areas with perhaps Wirral guilty of dropping balls when in possession and the first potential scoring opportunity came when Blaydon were brought back for a forward pass some 15m from the Wirral line. Eventually Wirral cleared but Blaydon were looking to gain ground by long kicks down to the left hand corner but the home side made ground with 2 half breaks from JAMES ANNETTS but he could not break free.
The first score came after 27m when a high kick from CHRIS CROWLEY created a penalty opportunity for JAMES ANNETTS to slot over a penalty from about 33m. 3-0. Blaydon than had control of the ball in the Wirral 20m and made progress towards the line, keen tackling kept out the away side but they eventually found a chink in the Wirral defence for Matthew Jenkinson to score close to the posts and was converted by Ryan Foreman. 3-7 (35 mins).
Straight from the kick off, Wirral kept play in the Blaydon half and controlled possession with a number of thrusts before RYAN STEAD in possession went on a short weaving run to score close to the posts with JAMES ANNETTS converting, 10-7 (37 mins). From the kick off, CRAIG HARVEY set up a break for MATT LOON who went on a run only to be tackled 10m from the line. Wirral continued to apply pressure and play was interrupted by the Blaydon prop in an off side position and Calum Eastwood was sin binned. Wirral turned down the easy 3 points and went for a scrum, which was re-set twice before passing the ball out but strong tackling kept Wirral at bay until slick handling to the left saw DAN HARVEY dive over in the corner from 2m out. From the touchline against the wind, JAMES ANNETTS converted to extend the Wirral lead to 17-7.
The second half started with Wirral having the territorial and possession advantage. They were on the attack, when a long pass to the left, which would have created an overlap, was intercepted by Hugh Mongan, who had a run in from 70m to score under the posts and converted by Foreman. 17-14 (45 mins). MIKE WARREN came on for TOM PARRY (injury to neck). Immediately from the kick off Blaydon collected and passed it wide and created ground down the right and good passing left captain, Keith Laughlin with an easy run in and the conversion gave Blaydon the lead, 17-21, 47 mins. On 53 minutes, CRAIG HARVEY was sin binned for an off side incident. From this incident, Blaydon extended their lead with a penalty by Blaydon’s Foreman 17-24. MARK WILLIAMS came on for PAUL LEWIS, which brought CHRIS SPEED into the pack. 57 mins saw the Blaydon winger, Frazer Wilson sin binned. From this position JAMES ANNETTS slotted over his second penalty. 20-24.
Both sides were giving away a number of penalties and from such penalty, Blaydon scrum half Nathan Horsfall took it quickly and made substantial ground, which enabled the away side to put pressure on the Wirral line and this led to Horsfall himself diving under the Wirral defence to score close to the posts, unbelievably the conversion was missed, 20-29 (69 minutes). One minute later, MIKE WARREN was sin binned for tackling a Blaydon player in the air. Another quickly taken penalty by Horsfall set up Frazer Wilson to score under the posts and converted- 20-36. (71 minutes). SAM BROADBENT and PAUL LEWIS came on for DAN HARVEY and JAMES REEVE which left Wirral without a recognised back row forward on the pitch. In the remaining 9 minutes, Blaydon ran in 3 more tries, through Guy Graham, Keith Laughlin and Tony Harvey of which two were converted. In the final minute of the game, CRAIG HARVEY left the field with a knee injury (doubtful for next week).
The score line somewhat flatters Blaydon as Wirral were in this game until 60 minutes but the depth of the squad at Blaydon showed through in the end. Next week, Wirral are away at Wilmslow, 3pm kick off in what is in effect a “derby match”.