Billingham 20 – 24 Lymm
1st Team Match Report | Saturday March 26 2022
Glorious defence and flair win the day
It was a glorious day for Lymm in Billingham in more ways than one. The sun was in a cloudless sky and the wind was behind the hosts as they kicked off in what was to be a fiercely fought encounter.
Lying fourth to Lymm’s sixth in the table, Billingham are not used to losing at home. In fact Lymm’s last win at this club was over seven years ago and Billingham also took the honours 13 – 24, at Lymm earlier this season.
Both teams are renowned for a running game, both training on AGP’s, and so it proved. Lymm were soon at it, spreading the ball wide at every opportunity as they searched for any weaknesses in the home side’s defence. When Billingham ran it back they met similar, stern resistance but eventually won a penalty in the 22 which was duly converted – 3-0 after 11 minutes.
Billingham’s influential second row Ben Walton then had to be stretchered off with a suspected broken leg which caused a 5min delay, and we wish him a speedy recovery. The game was punctuated by Billingham’s running ambition, and after several drives to the line, the ball was moved wide for a try, making it 10-0 after 15 minutes following the conversion.
Initially, Lymm’s line -out was misfiring although there was parity at scrum time, which gave Lymm a solid platform. The attacking line-out in the home 22 went to plan and, after a driving maul, the ball was given the Barnes-Wallace treatment, for centre Scott Redfern, who showed great form all day, to pick up and dive under the posts. 10-7 after 37 mins with full back Cormac Nolan easily converting.
As the half came to a close No 8 Ollie Higginson made a great break, running 40m, passing inside to second row Aaron Rashid, but what would have been a try-scoring pass from Aaron went to ground and the opportunity to take the lead was lost.
Billingham had the last word of the half converting a simple penalty under the sticks leaving a half time score of 13-7.
HT – 13 – 7
There was a confidence to Billingham’s game which persisted throughout the match. However, on halfway, and against the run of play, the ball fell to ground in a tackle and that man Rashid, making up for his earlier mistake, kicked the ball towards the Billingham line. He then picked up and fed scrum half Gregor Watson, who sprinted 25m to the posts to dot down, giving Lymm the lead with the easy conversion from Nolan on 46 mins – 13-14 and all to play for.
Lymm’s purple patch continued and confidence sky-rocketed. The line-out was functioning well now and the forwards provided good ball for the backs to put right winger Nathan Beesley into a yard of space. That was all he needed as he went round one man, then the defending full back came to make a try-saving tackle. Except he didn’t and, despite two supporting runners inside him, Beesley went inside then out, skinning the would-be tackler like a certain Italian full-back. Beesley then went under the posts for the try of the game, making it 21-13 after 55 mins as Nolan slotted the conversion.
With 20 mins to play Billingham had plenty in the tank and back they came with surge after surge of attacking intent. Lymm, as they have all season, were up to the defensive task and repelled all borders time and again. But the home side were building up a head of steam and eventually this momentum led to a try under the posts making it 20-21 with the easy conversion, on the hour mark.
Shortly afterwards Nolan was offered a penalty just outside the 22, and to the left of the posts, giving Lymm a little breathing space at 20-24 with 15 mins to go.
The final quarter was a tense affair but this Lymm team, having matured, and ably led by skipper Gavin Woods, were determined to keep Billingham out. Expectant father and Fly half Tom Shard managed this period well by kicking tactically and playing the game mostly in the host’s half. However, after one particularly tough defensive stint, and Lymm defending their try line like Rourkes Drift, Billingham were looking increasingly dangerous, but penalised 10m out for holding on. The hoots and cheers of celebration from the Lymm team were long and loud as they cleared their lines once more.
As the final whistle went, to huge relief among the team, the large travelling squad of players and supporters alike, it was generally agreed by both home and away contingents that Lymm deserved their victory. The smiles on all the Lymm players was evident and they knew they had achieved a significant milestone.
Award for back of the day went to centre Scott Redfern, who seems to have grown into the centre position, and the forward award went to second row James Yates, who has had an outstanding season so far.
Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher could barely speak after the game. ‘I thought defensively we got better through the game but couldn’t quite get into our shape in attack often enough. It was great to have the whole squad with us, the noise they made really lifted the team. It was very nervy at the end but so happy the boys were able to see the game out.’
FT: 20 – 24
Team: 1. Gavin Woods (Capt), 2. Adam Bray, 3. Matty Hand, 4. Aaron Rashid, 5. James Yates, 6. Rhys Lilly, 7. Ed Morris, 8. Ollie Higginson, 9. Gregor Watson, 10. Tom Shard, 11, Sam Wadsworth, 12 Scott Redfern, 13. Stveve Pilkington, 14. Nathan Beesley, 15. Cormac Nolan. Reserves: Dan Horton, Rob Makin. Dalton Frith.