1st Team Match Report | Saturday January 4 2020
A winning start to 2020 for Lymm
We are honoured to have two reports this week on this game, thanks to Chief Scribe, Simon Plumb, passing the port the wrong way in Portugal. The first is by David Fernyhough
A large crowd staggered out from beneath their Christmas blankets of Quality Street, Twiglets, mince pies and tinsel to enjoy Lymm’s return to action. For certain individuals, the urgency of this escape from seasonal excess was writ large, but the players displayed no lethargy as both teams gave a fully committed display of rugby.
Since beating Lymm early in the season, Alnwick seem to have struggled, but their performance at Beechwood suggested a better team than their league position indicates. The Northumbrians were to open the scoring after an initial 20 minute spell in which neither side found their rhythm ( unlike the referee who was belting out a nice rhumba influenced beat on his whistle every time Lymm neared a ruck). Successive penalties saw the visitors advance to 5 metres from the try line. A deftly executed line out maul gave them a try from hooker, Jimmy Cowens, The conversion missed, 0 – 5.
Lymm launched attacks through the returning Ollie Higginson, Nathan Beesley and Cormac Nolan but each time a forced off-load saw the ball turned over. Defensively, Tom Bray at full back was dominating those who chose to run at him forcing key knock-ons in the tackle. Alnwick meanwhile were making good ground through their strong running backs. The incessant penalising of Lymm at the breakdown also ensured they had plenty of possession.
As the interval approached Lymm stopped an Alnwick attack on their own line and then began to put some possession together, poking hole after hole in Alnwick’s defensive line. One such break by Beesley allowed him to off load to another, Joe Watson. Watson skirted a couple of tackles to arc his way over the try line, Nolan converted as usual, 7 – 5.
My word what a lovely sunset was forming in the west behind the end where the lonesome pine once stood. Every shade and hue of red and blue were melting into one another. It reminded some of the huddled masses of the sunset in the episode of Vicar of Dibley where they are trying to find money to replace the damaged stained glass window in the church.
The second half started much as the first had ended. Lymm retrieved the ball from their kick, but failed to capitalise on this territory. Alnwick made forays into Lymm’s 22 but were rebuffed on each occasion. The visitor’s number 12 made the most dangerous break, but another knock on enabled Lymm to kick clear. Then Alnwick were the unlucky victims of a rare decision going in Lymm’s favour, when a break down the Lymm right wing fell foul of some loose passing. A dropped ball by Lymm was wrongly judged as a deliberate knock on by the defender who was promptly yellow carded.
Lymm were to score soon after when Beesley, who had been the most inventive attacker for the home side all game, collected an Alnwick clearance. He swiftly broke a tackle and raced into the space ahead of him to take the lead to 12 – 5. The conversion was missed. Fittingly for the town that coined the motto “Keep calm and carry on” Alnwick scored directly from the restart. The kick was allowed to bounce by Lymm but Alnwick were on hand to collect it and winger Joe Weddell touched down and No 10, Jonny Burn converted to tie the scores at 12 – 12.
Play continued to swap end for end, but Lymm were to seize victory. A fine cross the corner. A high tackle however prevented this. Lymm took full advantage of the opportunity the penalty presented. Choosing to eschew a kick for goal, they favoured a line out. Alnwick were again penalised, giving Lymm a 5 metre scrum to the right of the posts. Higginson broke from the back of the scrum and forced his way over the line. Nolan converted, 19 – 12. Lymm managed to hold back another late Alnwick attack, and patiently ran down the clock to take the spoils.
An enjoyable game with some moments of quality and even more moments of gritty resolve and perseverance from both sides. A fine way to open the new year, and ooooo what a lovely sunset!!
The second report is from Andy Leach
For the first match of the new decade, Lymm welcomed Alnwick to Crouchley Lane on Saturday. The reverse fixture early in the season had been a close run affair, the result of which had been controversially impacted by a score-keeping error by the referee. Lymm knew that the Northumbrian outfit was a better team than their current position towards the foot of the league table suggested, and a highly competitive encounter was expected.
The Lymm XV showed a number of changes from their pre-Christmas outing at Macclesfield, the most notable being the return of the Bray bothers and Oli Higginson. With Joe Senior now in New Zealand, his position on the left wing was filled by fellow 18-year old James Rooney. The weather conditions were good, albeit a brisk, cold westerly wind made for less than ideal spectating conditions – Christmas hats and gloves were certainly of great value.
Alnwick kicked off and the first 20 minute period was a relatively even affair with both sides mixing enterprise equally with errors, stifling the opportunity for either to gain the ascendency. Both set pieces were looking solid, with Alnwick in particular using their line-out as an attacking force. As the match edged into the second quarter, Alnwick won a couple of penalties in quick succession presenting opportunities to utilise a catch and drive from line outs close to the Lymm line. Although Lymm defused the first threat, they were less successful the second time round, with Alnwick forward Cowens crossing the line wide out to the left. Although the difficult conversion was missed, Alnwick had their noses ahead. 0-5.
The half continued in a similar vein, but Alnwick definitely had the lion’s share of possession and territory with Lymm, when they were in possession, either electing to kick long or seemingly not having the patience to play phase rugby for long before the tendency to attempt the “miracle offload” kicked in, with little success. As the half was coming to its end, Alnwick were camped in the Lymm red zone, and after being harshly penalised for an offense at the ruck, Josh Hadland was given a 10 minute rest for questioning the referee’s decision. So down to 14 and defending 5m from their line, Lymm were under considerable pressure. However, their defensive system, mixed with more than a little scrambling, was sufficiently solid to force an Alnwick error. From the turnover Lymm made good yards down the pitch and, once in Alnwick territory, they began to use their width, bringing both wingers into play. After a number of phases took play from one touchline to the other and then back, pace was injected down the right flank resulting in Joe Watson, who had recently joined the fray as a rolling replacement for Will Baldwin, scampering over from 20m, from what was to be the last play of the half. Nolan added the extras from wide out and, remarkably, Lymm went into half-time in front. 7-5.
Half Time: LYMM 7 – 5 ALNWICK.
If Lymm’s first try was all about teamwork, their second was clearly down to individual brilliance. 18 minutes into the half and in an effort to clear their lines following a period of sustained Lymm pressure, Alnwick hoisted a clearance kick towards the halfway line. Under considerable pressure from a couple of chasing Alnwick players, Nathan Beesley safely gathered the ball, had sufficient strength to fend off the chasing Alnwick players before putting on his afterburners and outflanking three Alnwick defenders to touch down 10m in from the right hand touchline. This time Nolan failed with the conversion. 12-5.
If there was now a collective sigh of relief from the Lymm spectators as a visible gap between the two teams had appeared on the scoreboard, it was to be very short lived. Lymm failed to deal with the restart, the bouncing ball landed nicely in the arms of an advancing Alnwick player who, despite being tackled, off loaded to winger Weddell, who touched down just to the left of the posts for an easy 7 pointer. Lymm just seemed to switch off and handed Alnwick what will probably be the easiest try they will score all season. 12-12.
Back to square one. However, Lymm now seemed to be even more focused and “on their game” and for the remainder of the match enjoyed their best period of play and some dominance ensued. Lymm were regularly camped in the Alnwick 22 and after a number of close shaves with the whitewash, on 34 minutes, Alnwick’s resolute defence finally cracked, when Higginson launched himself at the line from about 5m out with sufficient power and reach to score the match winning try, which Nolan dutifully converted. 19-12.
Lymm saw out the last 5 minutes or so with little drama, making sure that either Alnwick were playing with the ball in their own 22 or Lymm were in control of the ball when play was in their half. This was a close, highly competitive match between two well matched teams. On balance, Lymm probably deserved the win but Alnwick ran them very close and certainly did not look like relegation candidates. There are plenty of matches left for Alnwick to show this on the league table.
Full Time: LYMM 19 – 12 ALNWICK
After the match Coach Fletcher summed up the performance:
“I’m very relieved to get the win. We knew Alnwick would cause us problems as they are a strong well-structured team. The overall standard of the league is better again this year and the teams in the bottom three could all put runs together to get out of trouble. We have to be at 100% against everyone we play, we can’t ease off and think that home advantage will see us through.
Having said that, it’s great to kick-off 2020 with a win. There were some huge defensive performances today led by Tom Bray and James Lewis. Our attack was a little rusty but we still managed to look dangerous.
Bring on next week’s local derby against Wirral! Please note that KO is 2pm”
1) Gavin Woods, 2) Adam Bray (C), 3) Jordan Widdrington, 4) Aaron Rasheed, 5) Will Baldwin, 6) Josh Hadland, 7) James Lewis, 8) Oli Higginson, 9) Cormac Nolan, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) James Rooney, 12) James Kimber, 13) Steve Pilkington, 14) Nathan Beesley, 15) Tom Bray, 16) Harry Ratcliffe, 17) Jake Ashall, 18) Joe Watson.
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