Billingham 25 – 25 Lymm

1st Team Match Report | Saturday December 9 2023

Lymm survive an error filled game to move to 8th in the League

I think it is fair to say, although not a loss, the Lymm players and travelling supporters were disappointed as the final whistle blew. This was a possible 5 point win for Lymm but an error strewn game resulted in a draw that could easily have been a loss.

Interesting stats from league meetings between these two clubs over the years show 20 games played; 9 wins each and with this result 2 games drawn. Billingham were promoted from Regional Premiership North East, at the end of 22/23 season, to join Lymm in the RFU National Leagues. They have had a similar first half of the season as Lymm and as the stats show, our games have always been close. Low mist and continuous rain throughout the 2.5hr journey to the North East, made driving difficult but on arriving at the ground, the skies cleared and even the sun showed its face for a period. Their AGP was in good condition and no further rain fell throughout the game.

After 23 minutes, Lymm were winning 0-17. In a planned 5m lineout move, hooker James Pitcher took a short pass to go over in the corner, after 8 minutes. Tom Shard kicked an excellent conversion from the touch line, 0-7. 8 minutes later Shard kicked a penalty, as Lymm continued to dominate, 0-10. Then on 24 minutes, following some excellent attacking phases by the backs, Full Back Jack Reynolds sliced through to score, Shard converting, 0-17. The Lymm specys were obviously delighted but cautious with their optimism. They had seen numerous similar early leads this season only to see them overtaken. After last weeks fine win over PGH and with fingers X, they held their breath. But things were about to change.

Billingham were now starting to put phases together and retain possession. Their now influential No8 Anthony Jackson on touched down on 34 mins, No 10 Peter Evans added the extras, 7-17. Things didn’t improve for Lymm, on 36 minutes Jack Reynolds was yellow carded for a Technical Offence and with the clock on 40mins, the home side No7 Nathan Myers touched down for an unconverted try. 12-17.

Half Time: Billingham 12 – 17 Lymm

From the restart, Billingham were back on the attack in the visitors red zone and Prop Kieran Clark barrelled his way over on 43mins with No 10 Peter Evans converting, 19-17. Lymm had to restore some shape to their game. Shard knocked a penalty over on 53 mins to restore a narrow lead, 19-20. Fresh legs were brought on by both teams. (Lymm specys rummaged around in pockets and shoulder bags, to find various medications that may be needed, as the now closely fought game moved into the final quarter.) Lymm were now back in the game and a speculative chip over the home defence into their 22 was misfielded and Nathan Beasley snapped it up to touch down but he was adjudged to have knocked on. (Pills were heard rattling amongst the visiting specys and indeed the home supporters.)

On 68 mins, Billingham were awarded a penalty about 40 metres out in front of the posts, replacement, Ryan Foreman was on target, 22-20. Then a change of fortune for Lymm who were now putting sustained pressure on the home team. On 72mins, Billingham’s Luke Armstrong was yellow carded and Lymm kicked deep for touch from the penalty. From a well-controlled rolling maul, prop Matty Hand touched down but the conversion was missed, 22-25. Lymm just needed to retain possession where they could and hang on. (Lymm specys share pills and compare white knuckles.) Then with 77 minutes on the clock and Billingham making a now rare visit into the Lymm half, the referee Mr Harris awarded a kickable penalty to Billingham, converted again by Foreman, 25-25. In the remaining few minutes, Lymm were camped in the home red zone but to no avail, as the whistle finally called time. Both sides being awarded 2 league points. As a result, Lymm have moved up to 8th in the league. Other sides below and above them have games in hand but they have to win them.

There was no injuries to players and no fatalities among supporters, as we retired to the Billingham Clubhouse for cheese and biscuits and a glass or two of port. Thank you for your hospitality Billingham and our referee Michael Harris and his assistants. This game completed the first half of the season for Lymm and next Saturday 16th December, they travel to Huddersfield for the start of the 2nd half of the season.

Full Time: Billingham 25 – 25 Lymm

DoR Adam Fletcher commented: ‘I’m actually disappointed we didn’t get the win. I thought we put ourselves into a really strong position to win the game but unfortunately, we didn’t manage our lead well. What was pleasing is we finished the game strong and looked like the team pushing for the win.

‘It’s not an easy place to come, it’s one of our longest bus trips so to leave with 2 points is not a bad outcome. The boys are playing well and are looking forward to get stuck into Huddersfield next week.’

Squad: 1. Ralph McEachran (7); 2. James Pitcher* (55); 3. Matty Hand* (94); 4. Ben Thompson (19); 5. Rhys Lilly* (44); 6. Sean Callender (13); 7. Joe Johnson* (11); 8. Harry Martin (42); 9. Callum Morris (26); 10. Tom Shard* (123); 11. Paddy Jennings* (39); 12. James Kimber* (98); 13. Steve Pilkington* (54); 14. Nathan Beasley* (57); 15. Jack Reynolds (12). 16. Gav Woods (119); 17. Rob Makin* (51); 18. Josh Hadland* (29); 19. James Yates* [Capt] (109); 20. Andy Williams* (12).

( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances

* Former Lymm Academy/M&J player

Referee: Michael Harris

Match Report: Peter Cornelia

Photos: Courtsey of Billingham RUFC



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