Burnage 14 – 87 Lymm
1st Team Match Report | Saturday January 14 2023
Lymm turn on the style
Following their excellent performance and win against table-topping Blackburn last time out, Lymm made the short trip to Burnage, who this season have found themselves towards the foot of the league table. Last week’s victory came with a heavy toll for Lymm with 5 players needing to visit A&E rather than celebrate with their teammates in the bar afterwards. Of these, only James Kimber made it into the squad for this fixture, with injuries to Rhys Lily (knee) and Matty Hand (shoulder) the most concerning.
The consequential 4 forced changes saw welcome returns to the squad for Joe Watson, James Pitcher, Rorio Zheng and Jordan Widdrington, with the latter bringing his experience and not inconsiderable bulk to the set piece.
Thankfully, by kick-off, the seemingly incessant rain of the previous few days had relented and conditions, especially with Burnage’s recently refurbished artificial grass pitch looking resplendent, and notwithstanding a strong wind blowing diagonally across the pitch, looked likely to encourage the expansive style of rugby that Lymm have developed over recent seasons.
Lymm kicked off and were soon in their stride. From an attacking lineout, 8m from the Burnage line, the ball was secured by front jumper Sam Dickenson. The subsequent well-organised driving maul then moved in a controlled fashion to cross the try-line with hooker Rob Makin, emerging from the pile of bodies as the try scorer – on what was to be a remarkable afternoon for the young hooker. Nolan uncharacteristically missed the conversion from near the left-hand touch but after 4 minutes, Lymm were up and running. 0-5.
Two minutes later and Lymm scored their second, this time through league top try scorer Nathan Beesley. Following a kicking duel, the ball was loose on the Lymm 22. Beesley, gathered the bouncing ball and broke a couple of tackles before reaching open space which allowed him to put on the after-burners and run in from 75m to score under the posts. Nolan made the easy conversion, the first of 11 he would make over the course of the afternoon. 0-12.
On 13 minutes, Lymm scored their third and Beesley his second. Following a period of Burnage possession and pressure in the Lymm 22, the ball was turned over ending up in Beesley’s hands who then, intelligently, kicked ahead over the Burnage defence and through a combination of pace and footballing skills, was able to outstrip the defenders to dot down just to the right of the posts, for a converted try. 0-19.
Three minutes later and Lymm had their 4th, bonus point, try. Having secured the ball just inside their own half, Paddy Jennings made a telling powerful 5m run which sucked in the Burnage defenders. With his arms free he was able to offload in the tackle to the unmarked Scott Redfern, who ran in from 50m to register a converted try, just in from the left-hand touch, on what was his 100th appearance for Lymm. 0-26.
Notwithstanding the clear ascendency that Lymm were enjoying, Burnage continued to probe and, at times, caused problems for Lymm. On 20 minutes the Burnage fly-half made a telling break, being pulled up just short of the try line. Lymm, notwithstanding the scoreboard, defended fiercely and, ultimately, were able to turn the ball over and defuse the situation.
On 31 minutes, Lymm scored again this time through centre James Kimber. Again, this followed a period of Burnage possession when Lymm’s defence held firm, eventually winning a turnover. An impressive transition from defence to attack followed with Makin making the telling break before linking with Jennings who was able to hold off the cover defence and send Kimber in unopposed from 30m for a converted try. 0-33.
Lymm’s final converted try of the half came on 35 minutes. A Burnage line-out, 15m from their line was turned over by Lymm. The strong run by Makin that followed, fell just short but from the ensuing ruck, Cal Morris fed the ball right to Watson arriving at pace to score. 0-40.
Half Time: Burnage 0 – 40 Lymm
Whilst the scoreboard at halftime painted a very one-sided picture, this did not seem a fair reflection on Burnage who had played their part in a thoroughly entertaining half and on a number of occasions created challenges for the Lymm defence. Lymm for their part had defended well and cleverly mixed up their desire to play at pace with ball in hand with the additional weapon that Morris’ howitzer-like boot offers up.
Immediately after half-time Burnage were rewarded for their first half endeavour. Lymm spilled the restart, handing possession to Burnage in the Lymm half. Whilst Burnage made good forward progress from this, the momentum appeared to have been thwarted and a loose bouncing ball appeared destined to be gobbled up by Dickenson, however, the Burnage fly-half had other ideas and was able to burgle the ball from the big second-row to score from 10m out. The conversion was successful. 7-40.
Normal service resumed on 47 minutes when, from a Burnage defensive line-out 8m from their line, the loose ball was claimed by Lymm and fed to Makin who powered his way over from 5m, for another converted try. 7-47.
At this point Lymm made two changes, bringing on Pitcher for Makin and Zheng for Jennings. Remarkably, both these substitutes then scored converted tries with their first touches. First it was Zheng. From the restart, Morris put up a towering box kick which was expertly collected in contest by Beesley. The Lymm skipper then embarked on a mazy diagonal run across the pitch before throwing out a long pass to Zheng on the left wing who collecting the ball 25m out showed his pace and dexterity to score just in from touch. One minute later and it was Pitcher’s turn, as he capitalised on possession that had been secured from an attacking line-out in the Burnage 22, to rampage over the try line. 7-61.
Whilst Lymm’s performance was excellent, it was not perfect and by the middle of the second half they had failed to convert 2 or 3 chances which, ordinarily, they would have been odds on to score. One such opportunity arose on 61 minutes when Nolan intercepted a threatening Burnage attack on his own 22. With Beesley for company, a try looked certain. However, Lymm’s two best finishers failed to deal with the one Burnage covering defender who managed to frustrate the attackers. The referee did adjudge that the defender had illegally infringed in this act in not releasing Nolan from the tackle and sent him to the sin bin. No penalty try was awarded though this mattered little as Lymm opted for a scrum which rumbled towards the Burnage line, allowing scrum-half Morris to pick up and dot down from all of 6 inches. 7-68.
Burnage then scored an excellent try, with their fly-half again the inspiration. With an attacking phase seemingly going nowhere, he found sufficient space to put a big kick diagonally across the pitch from the left side. Whilst, the spectators (myself included) saw this as a poor option, the ball bounced perfectly into the arms of the Burnage right wing who ran home from 30m, for a converted try. 14-68.
What now followed was the Makin and Morris show – (Makin having returned to the fray, replacing Oli Higginson) – with Morris adding another try, from a quick tap penalty, and Makin a further 2, bringing his tally for the afternoon to 4 – quite remarkable for a hooker, especially as Pitcher, the replacement hooker, had also scored. Makin’s 4th try was the last play of the match and involved a series of passing interplays with his scrum-half. Somewhere in the midst of this, Nolan did fail with a conversion attempt. 14-87.
Full Time: Burnage 14 – 87 Lymm
After the final whistle, Club President, Neil Kelly, and Club Secretary, Rick Johnson, both former hookers, could be seen in earnest conversation with Makin – rumour has it they were inviting him to attend a disciplinary meeting of the brotherhood of hookers, where he will face a disrepute charge. Kelly was heard to say “one try OK, but 4! You’re taking the mick lad!”
Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher, commented: ‘Really pleased with the performance and result. We were a bit battered and bruised after the Blackburn game and I thought the boys showed a real professional edge that I’ve not seen in previous years. They knew Burnage would be tough and respected the challenge. We were really clinical in the first 15 minutes scoring 26 unanswered points. The game was sewn up in this period, however the boys continued to push and rack up the points’.
Thank you to the Referee, Mr George Nuttell, RFU North Panel Group
Next week, Lymm are at home to Kendall, KO 3.00pm.
Squad: 1. Gav Woods (99); 2. Rob Makin* (39); 3. Jordan Widdrington* (229); 4. Joe Watson (94); 5. Sam Dickenson* (8); 6. Harry Martin (23); 7. Ali Sutherland (73); 8. Oli Higginson* (248); 9. Cal Morris (6); 10. Tom Shard* (101); 11. Paddy Jennings* (19); 12. Scott Redfern (100); 13. James Kimber* (78); 14. Nathan Beesley* (C) (44); 15. Cormac Nolan* (203); Samir Tahraoui (3); 17. James Pitcher* (41); 18. Rorio Zheng (3).
( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances
* Former Lymm Academy/M&J player
Match Report: Andy Leach