Otley 34 – 5 Lymm
1st Team Match Report
Lymm outmuscled by league leaders
The Otley ground holds special memories for Lymm players, who won here as a club in 1978, and not least former Lymm and Lancashire centre Tony Wright who was in the North team that famously beat the All Blacks here back in 1979.
But the spectators were not climbing trees this week as most took to the large stand to try and keep out of the bitterly cold wind and rain. Playing with the conditions at their backs Lymm had, once again, a reshuffled team with late cry-offs and players coming back from injury.
Lymm’s pack were under particular pressure throughout the afternoon, as Otley’s considerable scrummaging machine took its heavy toll. Early pressure from league leaders Otley, and a powerful scrum, facilitated quick hands to the right where full back Connor crossed for the first of his hat trick of tries. The unconverted try gave a score of 5-0 after 6 mins.
Rustiness in the returning Lymm backs was evident as they struggled with the conditions, and some sloppy work allowed the Otley fly half Irvine to break through and score on the left – 10-0 after 10 mins with the wind having its say for the missed conversion.
Lymm then woke up and started to show some cohesiveness but the forward domination in these early exchanges reduced Lymm’s ability to gain a meaningful foothold. More disjointed passing was compounded by a series of penalties being awarded. A stern defensive operation held back the tide for most of the remaining first half but the Otley rolling maul had the home supporters cooing in delight.
Back row Ali Sutherland was replaced by Joe Watson for a shoulder injury after 31 mins, but after an attacking scrum in Lymm’s 22, Connor went over for his second and Otley’s third try, wide on the right, after 38mins – 15-0, shortly followed by the half time whistle.
HT – 15 -0
Now facing the stiff wind Lymm were well and truly up against it. Otley were consistently disrupting the visitors’ put-in at scrum time but eventually, going for route one, the ball was moved immediately to Ollie Higginson, prominent as ever throughout the game, at No 8, to run at the fly half, and deep into the 22.
A penalty resulted and a quick tap kept the movement alive followed by fast hands, which gave back row Harry Martin some space to squeeze over wide out on the right. A well worked try and daylight, and delight, at last – 15 – 5, with no conversion, after 51 mins.
From the kick off a clumsy, but adjudged, violent no-arms tackle was deemed a red card offence for the Otley second row, giving Lymm a one-man advantage with half an hour to go – an opportunity perhaps.
Scrum half Gregor Watson was then yellow carded for not retiring 10m, which also seemed a little harsh. Any thoughts of a comeback were extinguished by a Churchillian Tank of a rolling maul from Otley which then helped create another try, and a bonus point, making it 20-5 after 57mins.
It was then the turn of second row James Yates to take a 10 minute rest after 59 mins, reducing Lymm to play 13 men against 14. A powerful Otley scrum gave the fly half the chance to kick across field for the right winger to collect and score wide out – 29-5 following the first conversion of the day, on the hour.
Dan Horton, who was celebrating his 100 first team appearance, then came on as replacement in the front row but regrettably was also yellow carded on 69 mins. Former Samoan international centre Jonny Leota was then forced to play at No 8, scrummaging down in his own distinctive way.
Lymm, going for broke, started to move the ball well but could not break through and Connor eventually went over for his third try, wide out on the right, for Otley making a final and comprehensive score line of 34-5.
Head coach Adam Fletcher commented: ‘Otley showed us why they are top of the league and were extremely ruthless from minute one. We struggled to get a foothold in the game and had to play catch-up from the off. I was really happy with how the boys started the second half, they showed great character to get the first score.
‘We are looking forward to testing ourselves on Saturday, at home to Preston Grasshoppers, (kick off 3:00pm), who currently lie second in the table to our fifth.’
1. Matty Hand 2. Rob Makin. 3. Kieron O’Callaghan 4. James Yates, 5. Aaron Rashid. 6. Ali Sutherland. 7. Harry Martin. 8. Ollie Higginson. 9. Gregor Watson. 10. Scott Redfearn. 11. Mick Stratford. 12. Jonny Leota. 13. Liam Connolly. 14. Nathan Beasley 15. Cormac Nolan. Replacements: Dan Horton, Alex Stewart, Joe Watson.
Referee: Patrick Wheeler
Match Report: Simon Plumb