1st Team Match Report | Saturday February 15 2020
1st Team Match Report | Saturday February 15 2020
Lymm pipped to the post in the final furlong
Lymm welcomed Blaydon to Beechwood with the threat of storm Dennis hanging over proceedings. How much of a menace it would prove to be would be revealed over the course of the afternoon?
Last minute changes to the Lymm line up saw Nick Ashton start in the front row and Rory Riddell drafted in on the wing. The most notable selection however saw the return of Andy Davies to the matchday squad for the first time this season following his long injury lay off.
Blaydon kicked-off with the benefit of the strong wind in their favour. Right on cue at 3pm Dennis struck, and the heavens opened, the spectators looked for any shelter that was on offer. The Lymm players seemed to be similarly distracted as the kick- off was caught by the Blaydon number 4 who then ran through un-opposed to the Lymm line, finally hauled down just short, he was able to off-load for a Blaydon try. Seconds on the clock and 0-7 down.
Caught cold whilst appropriate would be an under-statement. The Blaydon number 4 was proving a handful in the early exchanges and a further rumble resulted in a Blaydon penalty, which was slotted to take the score to 10-0. Lymm slowly woke up and started to warm to the task, which was more than could be said for the spectators. The plan was to keep the ball on the park and attempt to work up the pitch through ball in hand and playing the phases. In one such phase however Lymm became isolated gifting Blaydon another penalty to take the score to 0-13.
Lymm however stuck to the task in-hand and started to gain some territory, helped by the scrum, which was beginning to get on top, Nick Ashton was to the fore and Lymm started to dominate proceedings. On 25 minutes after a period of sustained pressure Lymm finally got on the score sheet, centre Steve Pilkington gathering his own chip over the top and winning the race to touch down. Cormack Nolan added the extras for 7-13. Lymm now had their tails up. The handling and off-loading were excellent given the conditions and Lymm continued to pressure the Blaydon line. The Lymm scrum was dominant, creating a real platform for the backs to strut their stuff, on the stroke of half-time fellow centre James Kimber obliged, finding a gap he muscled over to make the score 14-13, with Nolan’s conversion. The half ended with Lymm on-top, Josh Hadland was particularly prominent, tackling and carrying with great purpose. Hopes were high that with the wind advantage Lymm could secure victory.
HT 14 – 12
Lymm started the second period as they had ended the first, pinning Blaydon deep in their half and stopping them from getting out. Dennis was making it increasingly harder for Blaydon to exit their 25. Lymm pressure resulted in Blaydon infringements, a further penalty and a yellow card took the score to 17-13 and growing optimism among the home spectators. The play became increasingly frantic but with Blaydon stuck in their own half it was Lymm who were benefitting, a further penalty and second yellow card made it 20-13. At this point Blaydon looked down and out. Lymm’s confidence was there for all to see with a superb back move, starting from a dominant scrum, and which ended with Nathan Beasley wrapping round and burning over with electric pace from 30 yards, 25-13 and surely no way back for Blaydon.
Forming up for the kick-off the Blaydon players having been pummelled for 20 minutes attempted to stir themselves for one last effort and stir themselves they did! From the kick-off Lymm knocked on, whether they thought the job was done or not, the intensity from the home team seemed to drop. Blaydon finally got a sniff of the Lymm half, let alone the line, and duly trundled over through the forwards under the post to make the score 25-20. Lymm came back and extended the lead with a penalty and any panic was seemingly over at 28-20.
With 10 minutes to go all Lymm had to do was kick for territory and see the game out, simple. Dennis however made the execution of this more difficult and a Lymm kick went long presenting Blaydon with a further opportunity to strike. Blaydon were more than up to the task, controlled phase play through the forwards again ended in an Exeter like flop over the line to make it 28-27. The Blaydon tails were now well and truly up, and desperation set into the Lymm ranks.
Blaydon turned over a scrum to gain territory, Adam Bray saw yellow and the penalty count started to rise. With the last play of the game Blaydon were again in the red zone trucking it up. Dennis was now at its peak, but Blaydon would not lie down, over 20 phases with the ball protected superbly, Blaydon were irresistible and Lymm could do very little to stop the juggernaut. With a sad inevitability the Blaydon 8 finally got over the Lymm line greeted by the referee’s final whistle and a 28-34 victory to Blaydon.
Lymm spectators were at a loss to explain how the game had slipped away, but with Blaydon on a roll it was very difficult to stop. Maybe it was errant kicking or conceding poor penalties at the wrong time? Maybe it wasn’t being ruthless enough and putting enough points on the board when they were on top. Whatever the reason it was cruel on Lymm who for the large part of this game had been excellent.
As for Dennis he dictated the style of play and Blaydon clearly adjusted better playing into the wind and sticking it up their jumpers, particularly at the end. Whatever the ‘whys and where fore’s’ this was an excellent game of rugby and given the conditions, the skill levels on show was a great testament to the both sets of players. The win took Blaydon to the top of the table and perhaps this is the best context for Coach Adam Fletcher and his players to reflect on the game; to be so disappointed to lose to the league leaders, with the last play shows the lads are not doing too badly.
“That was a really tough result to take”, commented Coach Adam Fletcher. “At 25-13 with 20 minutes to play, we should have closed the game out and finished Blaydon. Unfortunately we made a few errors that allowed Blaydon to get back into the game.
“We played some really good rugby and scored some excellent tries. I’m so proud of the whole squad.
“All credit to Blaydon, they showed at the end what a good side they are. To go through that many phases, in those conditions, to score a match winning try, was pretty special”.
Next 1st XV match is Morpeth away on Saturday 29th February, which promises a similar ‘up the jumper’ test for Lymm to try to come to terms with. Lymm 2nd XV are at home next week 22nd February, against Chester 2nd XV KO 3.00pm.
Nick Ashton, Adam Bray (C), Matty Hand, Aaron Rasheed, James Yates, Joe Watson, Olli Higginson, Josh Hadland, Tom Shard, Scott Redfern, Rory Riddell, James Kimber, Steve Pilkington, Nathan Beesley, Cormack Nolan, Gavin Woods, Matty Connelly, Andy Davies.
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