1st Team Match Report | Saturday September 3 2022

Lymm start the new season in style

The new season got underway on Saturday with Lymm travelling the short distance to near neighbours Northwich. With the leagues having been restructured this season to reduce travel, the fixture list has an increased number of local derbies to look forward to over the coming months.

For Lymm there have been a few changes over the summer – the most notable being the absence of the name Bray on the team sheet, with both Adam and Tom retiring, albeit Tom is now a highly valued member of the coaching team. Other absences are Ben Stansfield, Gregor Watson, Liam Connolly, Kieran Hughes and Aaron Rashid – the latter deciding to take a year’s sabbatical from the game. To balance this there are several returning graduated students, such as Joe Murphy and Alfie Simpson, and players progressing into the senior squad from the Colts Academy. With 21/22 player of the season, James Yates, taking the captain’s armband and Gav Woods joining Andy Davies and Tom Bray in the coaching team, there will be, as ever, plenty to look forward to over the season – which the inclusion in Saturday’s squad of two league debutants (19 year-old Ben Simpson and 18 year-old Rorio Zheng) reinforced.

Northwich kicked off and soon showed that they were likely to be a tougher nut to crack than they had been in the previous season, having recruited heavily over the summer, as was evidenced by the number of the southern hemisphere accents in their squad. The early exchanges were evenly matched. On 7 minutes, Cormac Nolan got the scoreboard moving with a long-distance penalty – his attempt from a similar distance 3 minutes earlier having fallen just short. 0-3. Five minutes later Lymm scored their first try of the match when, capitalising on turn-over possession, an intelligent kick behind the Northwich defensive line by Ben Simpson, bounced perfectly for the speedy Beesley to collect and wrong-foot the last defender to score 10m to the right of the posts. Nolan easily added the extras. 0-10. After 17 minutes Lymm attacked through the centre of the field, freeing Ben Simpson and with plenty of support on either side, a try looked inevitable. However, the attack was stopped when the Northwich centre illegally obstructed the supporting player, resulting in a Northwich yellow-card and an easy penalty kick for Nolan from in front of the posts. 0 -13.

However, Lymm were unable capitalise on this numerical advantage and, indeed, it was Northwich who put points on the board in this period when, after a spell of sustained pressure, they gave their attack some width allowing a back-row forward to thwart the Lymm defence and score about 15m in from the left hand touch. A good conversion followed. 7-13. Then, restored to a full complement, with the final act of the half Northwich reduced the deficit to 3 points with a simple penalty from in-front of the posts.

Half Time: NORTHWICH 10 – 13 LYMM

So, as the teams were taking on water and collecting their thoughts, the chatter on the touchline was that Lymm needed to cut out the penalties, be more clinical and patient in attack and use the width of their three-quarter line better – otherwise it was going to be a tough old afternoon. 5 minutes into the second half and having applied pressure on the Northwich defence through patient, phase rugby to gain good field position, Lymm were rewarded with a scrum penalty, straight in front of the posts, which Nolan converted. 10-16. 5 minutes later and Northwich, in an effort to exit their own half, spread the ball wide to their left wing, who ran into Sam Wadsworth in cover defence who, in an act of individual brilliance, stole the ball in the tackle immediately going through the gears to race in from 30m. Nolan made the difficult touchline conversion look easy. 10-23. Next, on 25 minutes, it was the forwards’ turn, constructing a solid rolling maul from a line-out 7m from the Northwich line, with hooker James Pitcher claiming the try. Again, Nolan converted. 10-30. Two minutes later and Lymm had their 4th and bonus point try and Wadsworth his second. From a quick tap penalty, the ball was spread wide to the left, creating numerical advantage in the process. This allowed the Lymm centre to use his strength to confound the cover defence and score, 7m in from touch. Nolan’s conversion this time striking the upright. 10-35.

With 10 minutes left, Lymm emptied their bench and from here on the story was all about debutant Zheng. Two touches and two tries, each showcasing a different aspect of his considerable talent and potential. For the first, he showed his speed and intelligence to outpace and outfox his opposite number and score close to the left-hand touch. Then he showed his strength when, put into a narrow channel by the left touch, he resisted the not inconsiderable challenge of a flying Northwich forward to retain his feet and score inches in from touch. Nolan converted the first but, with the final kick of the match, once again struck the upright.

Full Time: NORTHWICH 10 – 47 LYMM

After the match Director of Rugby, Adam Fletcher, commented: “Really happy to start the season with a 5-point win. Northwich have recruited well over the summer and are much improved on last season.

“We made hard work of it in the first half by not being patient enough and making a few unforced errors. However, we were a lot more clinical in the second half, scoring some really nice tries. Looking forward to kicking off our home campaign vs Rossendale next week. The 2nd XV also had a really good win against a strong Fylde side. Competition for places is healthy.

“Finally, For Gav Woods it was an 80 – 40 game. He turned 40 yesterday and in true fashion, celebrated by playing a full 80 minutes – Happy Birthday Gav!”

Squad: 1. Gav Woods (86), 2. James Pitcher (31), 3. Matty Hand (67), 4. James Yates (c) (87), 5. Joe Murphy (4), 6. Rhys Lilley (12), 7. Ed Morris (17), 8. Ali Sutherland (62), 9. Ben Simpson (1), 10. Tom Shard (88), 11) Alfie Simpson (15), 12. Scott Redfern (87), 13. Sam Wadsworth (11), 14. Nathan Beesley (31), 15. Cormac Nolan (191), 16. Kieran O’Callaghan (10), 17. Joe Watson (85), 18. Rorio Zheng (1).

( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances

Referee – Mr Adam Tweddle, Durham Society.

Match Report – Andy Leach



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