Lymm 35 – 22 Rossendale

1st Team Match Report | Saturday September 10 2022

Lymm enjoy home comforts

Old and familiar rivals Rossendale travelled to Beechwood on Saturday as Lymm kicked off their 2022/23 home season. With Rossendale coming off the back of a thumping win the previous week at home to Kirkby Lonsdale, and Lymm eventually prevailing comfortably at Northwich, the pre-match expectation was that this fixture might give a clearer indication of each team’s relative strengths.

Lymm made just one change to the previous week’s squad with the experienced Oli Higginson returning to replace Joe Watson on the bench. There was similarly one change to the starting XV, with Rorio Zheng starting and Alfie Simpson on the bench.

With a sizeable crowd gathered, and Lymm’s newly branded “Kennedy’s half-way house” poised to do a roaring trade, both teams and the officials took to the pitch for a minute silence. An eerie hush followed as every man, women and child stood in silence to remember, not only the incredible service that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had given to our country and the Commonwealth throughout her life, but also Lymm stalwart and former coach, Mick Garlick, who had passed suddenly two weeks earlier. In many ways it felt fitting that Mick, a military man of many years in service of the country, should be centre stage for this moment with the Queen he served.

Rossendale kicked off and the first few minutes were somewhat frantic with defences looking strong and both sides playing a cagey game, as they tested each other out. On 5 minutes, Rossendale tried a kick over Lymm’s defensive line, but the ever-alert Nathan Beesley, collected the ball in his own 22, called for the mark and, with considerable awareness and speed of thought, put in a huge kick, which took the ball deep into the Rossendale 22 near the right-hand touch. Although Rossendale scurried back to collect the ball, the Lymm chase was on them in a flash to charge down the attempted relieving kick. The ball was then shipped into the hands of Joe Murphy who charged over the line to score under the posts with a couple of defenders on his back, to put Lymm into the lead – a lead they did not relinquish all afternoon. Cormac Nolan made the simple conversion. 7-0.

Four minutes later and Rossendale scored their first try. An unforced error by Lymm had given Rossendale a scrum on the Lymm 22, good hands across Rossendale’s back line then creating sufficient space for the left winger to force his way over in the corner. The tough conversion was missed. 7-5. On 15 minutes, Lymm had their second try. A Rossendale box kick, which came to earth on about the halfway line, was contested in the air by Nolan and a Rossendale player. With the Rossendale player prevailing, the quickly recycled ball, was moved from right to left. In an attempt to get the ball into the open spaces on the left quickly, Rossendale threw a long miss pass…straight into the arms of Lymm’s Sam Wadsworth, who was not going to be caught as he raced in under the posts. Unfortunately, in coming to ground, Nolan had banged his head sustaining a cut in the process, which forced him out of the match, Alfie Simpson coming off the bench as a direct replacement in the full-back position. Tom Shard, who took over the kicking responsibilities, added the simple conversion. 14-5.

Ten minutes later and Rossendale narrowed the gap as they scored their second try. Following a couple of penalties in their favour, they had been able to camp themselves in Lymm territory for a sustained period and eventually, sufficient room was created on the right flank, for their right-winger to score about 15m in from touch. The conversion was again missed. 14-10. On 32 minutes, a Lymm attacking phase of play resulted in another Lymm injury, this time to young Winger, Rorio Zheng, ending his match. As a consequence, Lymm had to reorganise with Allie Sutherland moving to left-wing, allowing Oli Higginson to join the fray in his customary number eight position. Three minutes later, following a period in the Rossendale 22, Lymm were awarded a penalty close to the posts, which Shard converted, in what was the final scoring action of the half, a half in which Rossendale had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and field position but the Lymm defence had been outstanding. 17-10.

Half Time: LYMM 17 – 10 ROSSENDALE

For the Lymm supporters, who enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining half with both sides wanting to play with pace and width, the question was whether Lymm’s defence could continue in the same aggressive vein for the whole of the next 40 minutes…as it turned out, we need not have worried!

Early in the second half, in an effort to stretch Lymm’s lead beyond one score, Shard unsuccessfully attempted to convert another penalty. In fact, it was Rossendale who drew first blood in the half, scoring another unconverted try. Securing ball from an attacking line-out, they moved the ball through a few phases which created sufficient space on the right for their winger to squeeze past Alfie Simpson’s valiant attempted covering tackle to score his second of the afternoon. 17-15.

Lymm’s next try came after 58 minutes, but the genesis had been 4 minutes earlier when Higginson made a great break from his own 22 which, with tremendous support and inter-passing with James Yates, took Lymm well into their opponent’s 22. A series of penalties followed as Rossendale scrambled to thwart a series of Lymm attacks. Eventually, the play moved across from right to left and, spotting an opportunity, Ben Simpson was able to snipe through a gap and link with Higginson who strolled through under the posts, to give Shard a simple conversion. 24-15. Fifteen minutes later and Lymm secured a bonus point with their 4th try of the afternoon. Following a few attacking phases predominantly down the left, which had taken play into the Rossendale 22, the ball was moved quickly through hands to the right where Wadsworth created sufficient space to release Beesley towards the try line. The conversion was missed. 29-15.

Almost immediately, Lymm were back in Rossendale territory applying sufficient pressure to force an infringement, allowing Shard a timely opportunity to redeem for the missed conversion. 32-15. As the match went through its final stages, Rossendale scored their 4th and converted try; one of their forwards received a yellow card; and, with the final act of the match, Shard added another penalty. 35-22.

Full Time: LYMM 35 – 22 ROSSENDALE

After the match Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher, commented: “Huge win against a really strong and well-coached team.

“We were nowhere near our slick best in attack, but our defence was immense. Our line-speed and dominant collisions forced Rossendale into mistakes, and we capitalised on them. I was so impressed with the whole team. I thought Shardy mixed up our attack brilliantly, Sam Wadsworth looked super sharp once again, and Joe Murphy was just awesome in all aspects.

“There were a few bruised bodies post-match, so Physio Vicky will be busy this week.”

Next week undefeated Lymm have a tough fixture and travel to play undefeated Sandbach KO 3pm.

Squad: 1) Gav Woods (87), 2) James Pitcher*(32), 3) Matty Hand*(68), 4) James Yates* (c)(88), 5) Joe Murphy*(5), 6) Rhys Lilley*(13), 7) Ed Morris (18), 8) Ali Sutherland (63), 9) Ben Simpson*(2),10) Tom Shard*(89), 11) Rorio Zheng (2), 12) Scott Redfern (88), 13) Sam Wadsworth*(12), 14) Nathan Beesley*(32), 15) Cormac Nolan*(193), 16) Kieran O’Callaghan*(11), 17) Oli Higginson*(241), 18) Alfie Simpson*(16)

( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances

* = Former Lymm M&Js and Colts player

Referee – Mr Henry Pearson, RFU North Group.

Match Report – Andy Leach


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