Lymm 67 – 0 Northwich
1st Team Match Report | Saturday January 29 2022
Comfortable win for Lymm in trying conditions
Another Saturday afternoon at Crouchley Lane and, once again, the weather gods decided to test the resolve of both players and spectators. With a fierce wind gusting to 50 mph, blowing from the northwest causing the uprights to flex dramatically, Lymm welcomed local neighbours Northwich. Whilst Northwich, in their first season at this level in recent history, have struggled and sit at the bottom of the league, the challenging conditions coupled with another much changed and unfamiliar Lymm team sheet, suggested that this could prove to be a banana skin for the home side.
The Lymm coaching team were, once again, through holidays, illness and injuries, forced to shuffle the pack, notably introducing Alex Stewart for his debut, recalling “old warhorses” Tom Baker and Rich McEvoy into the squad and moving Scott Redfearn to full back to cover for absent top points scorer, Cormac Nolan. Preparations were further disrupted with withdrawals on Friday evening of experienced forwards Oli Higginson and Aaron Rasheed – the latter who had been due to make his 100th League appearance. Ali Sutherland and Gav Woods were called up from the 2nd team (whose fixture against Sedgley Park had been cancelled due to Covid) slotting straight into the starting XV.
Northwich kicked off playing into the breeze and, to be fair, the first 10 minutes was all about the men in black, with Lymm only fleetingly being able to get their hands on the ball. The influence of the wind was quickly in evidence with Gregor Watson’s box kick from just outside his own 22 being caught on the wind and finishing 5+ yards the wrong side of the right-hand touch. This was also undoubtedly a factor in Northwich failing to register the first score when an eminently kickable penalty from straight in front of the posts was pushed wide.
On 10 minutes though, Lymm did get possession and registered their first score. A loose Northwich offload was snaffled by Lymm 10m inside their own half, the recycled ball was quickly moved to narrow right hand side where excellent handling put winger Paddy Jennings into space in the 5m channel, who found scrum-half Watson running a great supporting line to score 15m in from touch which, remarkably in the conditions, Tom Shard converted. 7-0.
Three minutes later and Lymm attacked down the left-hand flank where quick hands, notably from Rhys Lilly, created space for Mick Stratford to beat the last defender and score. Again, Shard confounded the elements to add the extras. 14-0.
Next on 18 minutes, it was Down’s strong run down the same left channel that created the attacking platform on which McEvoy capitalised to score his first of the afternoon. Shard, who was now on a roll, converted. 21-0.
The final score of the half came on 34 minutes with captain Gav Woods claiming the try following a catch and drive from an attacking line-out – the genesis of which was a couple of minutes earlier when Harry Martin made an outstanding 50-yard burst to come within inches of the Northwich try line. Shard now confirmed he was human after all by missing the conversion from wide out. 26-0.
Half Time: LYMM 26 – 0 NORTHWICH
Notwithstanding they were now playing into the wind, Lymm dominated the second half with little or no action in their 22. The first try after the break was scored on 45 minutes when an excellent run by Jennings was taken on by Martin who interchanged passes with Adam Bray to score in the right-hand corner. Now kicking directly into the gale-force wind even Shard failed to threaten the posts. 31-0.
Ten minutes later and Lymm were awarded a penalty try when Watson was high-tackled whilst in the act of scoring, the offending player being given a 10-minute rest by the youthful, but excellent, referee, Mr Ounsley. 38-0.
From the restart, Northwich put the ball straight into touch, giving Lymm a scrum feed on halfway. The ball was then moved right from the set piece giving Jennings the space to make good ground before linking with McEvoy who scored under the posts, giving Shard an easy conversion. 45-0.
On 62 minutes, James Yates had the crowd purring with delight as he went on a rampaging run through the heart of the Northwich defence. The recycled ball found its way into the hands of winger Jennings who, deservedly, scored. Again, Shard failed with the touchline conversion attempt. 50-0.
Lymm scored 3 more tries in the remaining 18 minutes – the first to debutant Stewart, on hand to support another telling break by Martin; then Liam Connolly, a close-range effort; and, finally, Down was the beneficiary of another catch and drive. All three tries were scored in pretty much the same place, 5m in from the right-hand touch. After two more failed attempts, Shard did receive great applause for slotting home the last which proved to be the final action of the match. 67-0.
Some key take-aways were that once again, notwithstanding the conditions and change in personnel, the Lymm line-out went well; the grafters of Woods and Nick Ashton ensured that Lymm had a strong platform in the scrum; and the players who are relatively new to this Lymm First XV squad, such as Lilly, Stratford, Martin, Down and Jennings are looking increasingly comfortable at this level. Lymm are now in 5th place in the league.
Full Time: LYMM 67 – 0 NORTHWICH
After the match Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher, commented:
‘Great to get a 5th win on the bounce and I’m especially proud that the boys kept the score line to nil again.
‘Conditions were extremely tough to play in, but we kept to our processes well. We had different combinations again this week and it was pleasing to see these come together and for the lads, who had been playing well for the 2s, to show what they could do.
I’m looking forward to a tough selection meeting on Tuesday and going 6 in a row against Rossendale next Saturday.’
Team: 1) Gav Woods(c), 2) Adam Bray, 3) Nick Ashton, 4) James Yates, 5) Gav Down, 6) Rhys Lilly, 7), Harry Martin, 8) Ali Sutherland, 9) Gregor Watson, 10) Tom Shard, 11) Mick Stratford, 12) Liam Connolly, 13) Rich McEvoy, 14) Paddy Jennings, 15) Scott Redfearn, 16) Dan Horton, 17) Alex Stewart, 18) Tom Baker.
Referee: Mr George Ounsley – Yorkshire & RFU North Panel
Match Report: Andy Leach