Bromsgrove 26 – 40 Lymm
1st Team Match Report | Saturday April 1 2023
Lymm travel slowly but travel well
On Saturday, with the league season and their promotion celebrations now behind them, Lymm ventured into the uncharted territory of the Papa John’s Regional Cup – a competition devised by the RFU to fill in the last 5 weeks of the season which had been stripped of fixtures as a consequence of the League restructure reducing the number of teams in Lymm’s league from 14 to 12. The intention was to replace lost income with the prospect of home cup matches and to give the players something to play for, irrespective of league positions. The competition which was open to all 72 teams across the country playing at Level 5, is layered into 4 different competitions with the higher placed teams, such as Lymm, playing at the highest level – the Cup competition – which offers the prospect of a final played at Twickenham at the end of April. It is fair to say that the competition has been greeted with muted enthusiasm with a number of teams declining to enter and others withdrawing before completing any fixtures once the draw was announced, highlighting travel “challenges” and for some, the prospect of having to play on Easter Saturday.
Lymm were drawn in a group comprising Blackburn (2nd in the North West division); Heath (2nd in the North East); and Bromsgrove (4th in the Midlands), in a schedule which only offered Lymm one home fixture – against Blackburn on Easter Saturday. Blackburn were then quick to withdraw from the competition which potentially leaves Lymm with no home fixtures and 2 away matches – maybe the RFU might revisit this in the coming days and correct this imbalance – we can only hope….
So, with the opportunity to compete against a team that Lymm have never played before and the Friday night worries of an unplayable pitch due to a deluge in the Midlands on Friday resolved, Lymm headed south to Bromsgrove – only to be confronted with a closed M6 and a logjam through the A roads of South Cheshire and North Staffordshire. Consequently, the 1 hour 45 minute journey took 3 hours 30 minutes – requiring the kick-off to be delayed by 30 minutes.
For the fixture, the Lymm coaching team had elected to go for youth, resulting in a squad being named which, despite the inclusion of 40-year old Gav Woods, had an average age of 25. Making a welcome first appearance since the Covid-curtailed 2019/20 season were front-row forward Harry Ratcliffe and centre George Norman. In addition, Ratcliffe’s fellow prop James Sherlock, 18-year old Finn Williams and experienced wing Andy Rowley were having just their second run-out of the season.
Lymm kicked off and quickly showed that they had managed to get the extended journey out of their legs and were intent on playing their usual fast-paced expansive game – something which the Bromsgrove crowd thoroughly appreciated throughout the match. With the early exchanges being exclusively in Bromsgrove territory, Lymm applied sufficient pressure to cause the home team to infringe – the first time the resultant attacking line-out throw missed its mark, but the second time the ball was secured and moved quickly along the back line, where centre James Rooney made good ground through the heart of the Boar’s defence. The recycled ball was then moved left with right-wing Nathan Beesley looping round to create an extra man, before passing to fellow wing Rowley to score a walk-in – his first try for Lymm First XV since 2015! Cormac Nolan made the difficult conversion. 0-7 after 5 minutes.
Left wing Andy Rowley en route for Lymm’s 1st try
5 minutes later and Bromsgrove registered their first points – an unconverted try – when they capitalised on Lymm’s attacking ambition to boot a loose ball the length of the pitch, which the Lymm scrambling cover defence were unable to clean up, allowing a Bromsgrove score. 5-7.
The remainder of the half was almost exclusively fought out in Bromsgrove territory as the home side’s infringing handed Lymm regular penalties to allow them to pressure the home side’s try-line. First Nolan added a simple penalty (Lymm’s last successful points from the boot of the afternoon…), then, on 25 minutes, repeated transgressions earned Bromsgrove’s hooker a yellow card, on which Lymm immediately capitalised as Rob Makin scored from a rolling maul. 5-15.
Almost immediately and Lymm were on the attack again as, having collected a Bromsgrove line-out overthrow, Makin went on a bullocking run deep into the Bromsgrove 22, only to be thwarted by a high tackle from the Bromsgrove scrum-half – for which he was deservedly sent to take a 10-minute breather. With a forward down and a make-shift scrum half it seemed inevitable that Lymm would score from the resultant 7m line-out. This they duly did and, yes, it was that man Makin again as he claimed his 19th try of the season. 5-20.
Just before half-time Lymm got their 4th try with Beesley adding to his impressive tally for the season. The genesis of this was an overthrown Bromsgrove line-out on about half-way, which was collected by Lymm’s Williams who made a powerful run towards the Bromsgrove line. Whilst he didn’t quite have the gas to score, he did link intelligently with his support allowing Nolan to provide Beesley with a pass for a 10m stroll in to the line. 5-25.
Half Time: Bromsgrove 5 – 12 Lymm
Lymm remained on the pitch for oranges whilst Bromsgrove retired to the sheds, re-emerging no doubt after a stern talking to by their coaching staff – this certainly seemed to be the case given their renewed focus and tactical switch to keep play as tight as possible to counter Lymm’s expansive game. This paid off and it was now Lymm who seemed to be on the wrong side of the referee adversely impacting their ability to get their hands on the ball and exit their own half. 5 minutes into the half and it was Bromsgrove’s turn to employ the old “penalty kick to the corner; line out secured; rolling maul to score” routine, as they registered a converted try. 12-25.
At this point the referee went down with a leg injury which required considerable strapping before he could continue. In their first meaningful attack of the half though, Lymm almost scored, as a final pass failed to go to hand – but on their second foray, they did. A scrum on the home side’s 22 was the platform, with some slick and intricate handling creating a gap for Tom Shard to ghost through allowing him to feed full-back Nolan to score close to the left-hand corner. 12-30.
Cormac Nolan scoring try No 5
There then followed a period of “tit-for-tat” try scoring. First Bromsgrove scored a converted try from close quarters. A period of pressure on the Lymm line was stoutly defended for a period until a Bromsgrove forward span out of a tackle to wriggle over the line. Then back came Lymm with another unconverted try. A line-out 25m out was well taken by Sam Dickenson, who burst through the centre of the Boars’ line-out to within 10m of the try line. The ball was then recycled and sent along the Lymm three-quarters line with Beesley giving the final pass for Sam Wadsworth to dot down. 19-35.
Bromsgrove then got their 4th try, another from a rolling-maul, and with time running out Lymm completed the scoring when Man of the Match, Ben Simpson, caught the home defence off-guard as rather than distribute the recycled ball as he had done so efficiently all afternoon, he ran through the centre of the ruck to score from 15m. 26-40.
Full Time: Bromsgrove 26 – 40 Lymm
Director of Rugby Adam Fletcher, commented:
“Really pleased to get the win. The way we started the game was impressive. We haven’t played for 3 weeks and were delayed enroute, so to come out of the blocks as we did was excellent.
“The league season took its toll, so some boys were deservedly rested. This gave us the opportunity to hand starts to Harry Ratcliffe, Fin Williams, James Sherlock, George Norman, James Rooney and Andy Rowley. – they were all superb. Strength in depth is going to be key next season so this was really pleasing.
“Our execution was very good and we scored some excellent tries from first phase. Our defence was outstanding in patches led by Ed Morris and Fin Williams.
“A huge shout out to the 2s – a team stacked with current and ex-colts – for their impressive away win at Fylde. What a great scalp!”
The boys will rest up next week and enjoy Easter.”
Team: 1. Harry Ratcliffe* (4); 2. Rob Makin* (48); 3. James Sherlock* (10); 4. James Yates* (C) (98); Ed Morris (30); 6. Fin Williams* (2); 7. Harry Martin (31); 8. Rhys Lilly* (30); 9. Ben Simpson* (18); 10. Tom Shard* (109); 11. Andy Rowley* (64); 12. James Rooney* (9); 13. George Norman* (13); Nathan Beesley* (VC) (51); 15. Cormac Nolan* (211); 16. Gav Woods (106); 17. Sam Dickenson* (17); 18. Sam Wadsworth* (14).
( ) = number of Lymm First XV League and Cup appearances
* Denotes a product of Lymm M&Js/Colts Academy, (15 in today’s 18 man squad)
Match Report: Andy Leach