Lymm 51 – 26 Wirral
1st Team Match Report | Saturday February 11 2023
Lymm extend their winning run
Buoyed by their elevation to the top of the league table, albeit with second-placed Blackburn having a game in hand, and their award as the RFU’s team of the month at Level 5 for January, on Saturday Lymm welcomed longstanding Cheshire rivals Wirral to Beechwood. This would be the 16th fixture between these clubs over the past 8 seasons, most of which had been close-fought encounters. With Wirral marginally ahead in the fixture’s won/lost stats and coming off the back of their own 5 match unbeaten run, Lymm knew that this was going to be a tough encounter against an experienced outfit.
The Lymm squad showed 6 changes from last week’s 18 with Gav Woods, Tom Shard, Nathan Beesley and James Rooney available again after last week’s absences; Matty Hand made a welcome return from injury; and new father Kieran O’Callaghan returned to the bench. With near perfect weather conditions, the expectation of the crowd was that they would be treated to a fast, open game with plenty to applaud – they were not disappointed.
In the opening exchanges Lymm showed their intent to play at pace using the width of the pitch to probe the Wirral defence. Playing to fine margins though, a midfield handling error allowed Wirral to go on the offensive taking play well into the Lymm 22. A period of Wirral pressure then followed with the Lymm defenders scrambling furiously to protect their try line. Following a forward drive, Wirral thought they had scored but the ball was adjudged to have been held up, giving Lymm the opportunity to clear their lines and move play back into Wirral territory.
On 11 minutes Lymm were awarded a penalty 25m out from the Wirral line 10m to the left of the upright, which Nolan converted, and a 4-minute, 15 point Lymm whirlwind was underway! The Wirral restart was perfect, giving the chasing players a great opportunity to challenge for the ball. Under intense pressure, Rhys Lily expertly gathered the ball and set up the ruck 30m from the Lymm line, 10m in from the left-hand touchline.
Rhys Lilly 30m break from Wirral restart, which led to Ben Simpson’s try
Scrum-half Ben Simpson, then elected to probe the narrow side, linking with number eight Oli Higginson, who made good ground before moving the ball to left-wing Paddy Jennings. Jennings, as he did throughout the afternoon with his pace and power, made excellent yardage taking play into the Wirral half, before linking again with the supporting Higginson, who powered into the Wirral 22. With the option of Jennings on his left and Simpson to his right, Higginson elected to draw the last defender with an inside pass that allowed Simpson to scamper over unchallenged to score under the posts for a converted try, 10-0.
Ben Simpson Scores Lymm’s 1st Try
The next Wirral restart was not quite as threatening as the previous one, going a bit deeper into Lymm territory. Again, this found Lilly, who broke through the advancing Wirral defensive line, and with acres of space ahead of him, set off on a 50m arcing run towards the Wirral line. Linking with his supporting teammates, the ball ended up in the hands of his fellow flanker, Harry Martin, who scooted over from 20m to score 5m in from the right-hand touchline, for an unconverted try. 15-0
Harry Martin scores Lymm’s 2nd try following another 50m restart break from Rhys Lilly
Sadly, 5 minutes later, Lilly, who had been having an excellent match, was forced from the field with a leg-injury to be replaced by the experienced Joe Watson. Shortly afterwards, Wirral registered their first score. A long clearance by Lymm from their own 22 was collected by Wirral’s fullback Williams (a threat throughout the 80 minutes) inside his own half, who then put an intelligent chip into the space behind the advancing Lymm defensive line. As is often the case with the oval ball, the bounce can be unpredictable and, whilst it looked for all money that Lymm’s skipper James Yates would be able to gather the ball, it ended up instead in the grateful hands of the speedy Williams, who linked with flanker Pearl to score 10m to the left of the upright for a converted try. 15-7.
On 29 minutes, Lymm got their third try. From a scrum 25m out from the Wirral line towards the right-hand touchline, in what looked like a move off the training ground, Simpson moved the ball left. Right-winger Beesley looped round to join the line such that his pace created the overlap which allowed Nolan to score unopposed in the left hand corner, a try he expertly converted. 22-7.
Cormac Nolan touches down for Lymm’s 3rd Try which he converted from wide out left
Despite a period of Lymm pressure in the final minutes of the half, there was no further scoring in the half.
Half Time: Lymm 22 – 7 Wirral
At the start of the second-half, Simpson was forced from the field – not due to injury but apparently a desperate need to find some imodium. He did return 10 minutes later, moving noticeably more freely! In his absence, Nolan moved to scrum-half with Scott Redfern slotting in at full back.
47 minutes gone and Lymm registered their 4th, bonus point, try. From an attacking line-out on the right the ball was moved into mid-field where James Kimber made some excellent yards. The ball was quickly recycled and moved towards the left flank where an excellent pass found Redfern, who still with work to do, proved too powerful for the covering Wirral defence to cross the line. Nolan made the difficult conversion. 29-7.
However, within 2 minutes Wirral hit back, scoring their second try, with Williams finishing off an excellent move to score under the posts for a converted try. 29-14.
Shortly after this, Yates was yellow carded for a professional foul and, with the one man advantage in the pack, Wirral’s forwards pounded the Lymm line and on 56 minutes managed to inch over Lymm whitewash for a try, which was easily converted. 29-21.
So from the relative comfort of a 22 point lead, Lymm were now facing a potential dog fight over the remaining 27 minutes of the half if they were to come away with the win. Given this change in the match position, it came as no surprise when, on 59 minutes, Lymm having been awarded a penalty 37m out, elected to take the sensible option, and allow Nolan to add 3 points to his burgeoning tally for the afternoon. 32-21.
Back came Wirral on the offensive and, 3 minutes later, as they were moving the ball across their three-quarter line on halfway, Redfern made a brilliant one-handed interception, retained possession and made good ground into the Wirral 22. The recycled ball was then moved right where Rooney, spotting the disorganised Wirral defensive line, put a clever kick into the Wirral in-goal area which Beesley gathered to dot down for a converted try. 39-21.
Nathan Beesley scores Lymm’s 5th try
On 67 minutes Lymm were awarded a penalty and now, with some breathing space on the scoreboard, elected to kick to the corner where the Sam Dickenson – Higginson – Rob Makin front peel move worked perfectly for the Lymm hooker to register his 11th try of the season. Nolan made the excellent conversion from the touchline. 46-21. 4 minutes later, and this time a throw to the tail was laid off to Dickenson who powered through a gap that had appeared in the middle of the Wirral lineout to within a metre of the try line. The recycled ball was then moved towards the left-hand touch allowing Makin to score yet another try. This time Nolan failed to add the extras. 51-21.
Hooker Rob Makin scoring one of his two tries
After 75 minutes, Wirral deservedly got their 4th, bonus point try, as their left-winger Mitchell, collected a cross-field kick to outflank the Lymm defence for an unconverted try. 51-26.
As the game entered its last stages, the referee gave yellow cards to a player from either side, but this had no impact on the outcome or score.
Full Time: Lymm 51 – 26 Wirral
Head Coach Andy Davies, commented:
‘We weren’t at our fluent best but we still had patches of tempo and skill which we’ve shown in other games. Wirral are a vastly improved team, which their recent record shows, and they caused us issues. We’ve now had two really tough games where we have shown a lot of mental toughness to dig in and get the 5 points. This should put in us in good stead for the final four league games.’
Team: 1. Gavin Woods (101), 2. Rob Makin* (43), 3. Matty Hand* (79), 4. James Yates* [Capt] (93), 5. Sam Dickenson* (12), 6. Rhys Lilly* (26), 7. Harry Saxton-Martin (26), 8. Oli Higginson* (252), Ben Simpson* (13), 10. Tom Shard* (104), 11. Paddy Jennings* (23), 12. Scott Redfern (104), 13. James Kimber* (82), 14. Nathan Beesley* (46), 15. Cormac Nolan* (206), 16 Kieron O’Callaghan* (18), 17. Joe Watson (98), 18. James Rooney* (6)
( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances.
* Former Lymm Colt’s Academy/M&J player. 14 in the 18 man squad today.
A big thank you to our Referee, Mr Andrew Shaw, North Federation Referees Group and his coach, David Guerin, we hope that you enjoyed your visit to Lymm.
Next week, Lymm are at home to Macclesfield KO 3pm. Prior to the match it is our annual, Past Players’ reunion luncheon.
Match Report: Andy Leach
Match Photos: Stuart Watson and Tim Martin