03/10/23 | Under 16's
On Sunday 1st October the Under 16’s travelled over to play local rivals and current Cheshire Cup holders Wilmslow RFC. With a bare 16 players available, some of which are new players and 5 players playing out of position, it was going to be a tough day at the office but the boys travelled confident that they would give it everything.
The boys were allocated the first team pitch which was immaculate, but with heavy rain falling throughout it was obvious to all that the pitch would cut up and the ball was going to be slippery at best! Adapting to the conditions was going to be critical.
Lymm won the toss and opted to kick to Wilmslow – a first opportunity to apply pressure. Wilmslow fielded well but they were pegged back by aggressive defence from the Lymm players intent on making their mark on the game. Wilmslow kicked to exit and Lymm returned the ball into their half and pushed on until a handling error occurred and a scrum ensued. This was to be the pattern for much of the rest of the half, with both sides to their credit trying to play expansive attacking rugby but the ball spilling loose at key points or players going off their feet at the breakdown in the conditions.
Against the run of play, Wilmslow broke the deadlock first with an unconverted try following a kick deep into the Lymm 22, with a large contingent of players chasing down the ball and turning over Lymm close to their line and getting over to the right of the posts.
Lymm came back at Wilmslow well and after quick ruck ball at the edge of the 22 and good movement through several pairs of hands Lymm scored wide of the posts. The conversion came tantalisingly close to going over but instead struck the upright and bounced out.
Half Time: Wilmslow 5 – 5 Lymm
During the half time team talk Lymm had chance to appraise the conditions and the game and started the second half well. With a greasy ball and a large pitch, Lymm opted to kick long for position to apply pressure on several occasions. Each time Wilmslow’s fullback fielded well but Lymm’s kick chase was equally good with many players getting up to close the net on the oncoming players which allied to strong rucking, allowed Lymm to establish good field positions in the Wilmslow half.
Both sides battled away for territory and possession in the Wilmslow half before Lymm finally broke the second half stalemate with a good score to the left of the posts. This was duly converted well in the tricky conditions and Lymm had the lead.
Wilmslow are not Cheshire Cup holders for nothing and came back strongly for the next five minutes, however Lymm defended well and at key moments jackaled for the ball and were awarded several penalties. This allowed the pressure to be relieved by kicking for touch only for Wilmslow to press again.
It was from a set piece in the end that Wilmslow managed to score. Wilmslow’s fly half put up a testing high ball just in front of the Lymm 22 and the winger rose brilliantly at full pace to collect the ball and sprint in to score to the right of the posts. With the conversion missed – Lymm were leading by 2 points. 10-12.
Lymm came back at Wilmslow this time and for long periods were camped in the opposition half however Wilmslow defended well and Lymm couldn’t get over for a try. The pressure eventually told however and outside the 22 and to the right of the posts, Lymm were awarded a penalty which was duly converted. 10-15 and 7 minutes to go.
Wilmslow had brought on some fresh legs at half time from the bench which ultimately told in the final stages. Wilmslow drove upfield and kept banging away at Lymm’s defences. Lymm remained strong however and forced a handling error on the 5 metre line. From the resulting scrum, the slippery ball struck again and frustratingly the pass went astray and over the deadball line. A scrum was consequently awarded to Wilmslow on the 5 metre line. Off the back of the scrum the Wilmslow number 8 picked up, put his head down and drove over the line to score. The conversion was successful and Wilmslow had retaken the lead.
At that point and with no subs many teams would have given up, but not this group of players. From the kick off Lymm went after the ball with impressive determination. They pressured Wilmslow time and again and with 1 minute on the clock broke through from halfway with impressive support play from several players eventually being hauled down short of the Wilmslow 5 metre line. Lymm seeing gaps in the home defence opted to kick wide to the corner for the onrushing winger – sadly however the ball skidded off the sodden surface and the ball went dead and with that the final whistle was blown.
Full Time: Wilmslow 17 – 15 Lymm
It was a thrilling end to a pulsating game between two well matched teams played in testing conditions. Wilmslow showed some moments of real class during the game and their defence was impressive but Lymms determination and character stood out with territorial advantage for the majority of the game made even more impressive given they travelled with only one substitute.
It promised to be a tough day at the office and so it was but with congratulations to an impressive Wilmslow team, there were lots of things about Lymms performance to be very proud of.