Otley 45 – 34 Lymm

1st Team Match Report | Saturday October 14 2023

Lymm lose out in a game of 4 quarters

Lymm headed over the Pennines to Otley for the 7th match in their 2023/24 season, with a squad that showed only a couple of changes from the previous week.  Available again Steve Pilkington returned to form his regular partnership in the centre with James Kimber, Jack Stride moving to the bench, where Ben Thompson replaced James Sherlock.

On a cold and sunny afternoon Lymm were hoping to add another victory to their thrilling last-minute success in their previous away fixture.  Otley kicked off, Lymm secured the ball and returned play to touch on halfway with their clearance kick.  So far so good…..but then Otley went straight into fourth gear.  Winning the lineout, they took the ball into contact, then ran it through their backs to the right, where an outside break took play into the Lymm 22.  A couple of strong phases through the forwards ate further into Lymm territory, until Number 8 Waddington in taking the tackle was able to reach out a long arm to dot down just to the right of the posts, giving Stead an easy conversion.  1 minute gone and Lymm were 7-0 down.

Lymm managed to secure the restart and attacked into the Otley 22.  Several phases later and Lymm were awarded a simple penalty opportunity with Tom Shard easily converted.  3 minutes gone, 7-3. Back though came Otley.  A half break by flyhalf Crossland, took the Yorkshiremen towards the Lymm 22, then playing with a penalty advantage he put a crosskick towards the right corner, which looked for all money to have been flying into touch – only for the Otley winger, Taylor, to leap acrobatically, gather the ball and touch down to the satisfaction of the referee.  Although the difficult conversion was missed, Otley were now 12-3 up after 6 minutes.

6 minutes later and Otley were on the march again.  A Lymm line-out was lost on halfway, Otley surged forward through several phases until their left-wing Wells, found sufficient space to score 20m in from the touchline, which Stead converted.  19-3.

Otley were now in the groove of scoring every 6 minutes, and on 18 minutes they collected their try bonus point.  This time, the move started deep in their own territory.  Having secured scrum ball, a big miss pass put centre Stead into acres of space.  He then linked with Crossland to score under the posts, Stead adding the extras.  So, after 18 minutes Lymm were down 26-3 with a seemingly huge mountain to climb to get anything from the fixture.

With Act 1 over, we now moved into Act 2.  Lymm came straight back – having collected the restart, they exerted pressure in the Otley 22, winning a penalty for offside.  Following a kick to the corner, the lineout was won, the subsequent rolling maul powering towards the Otley line but going to ground a yard short – however, scrum-half Callum Morris was on hand to pick up the ball and dive over.  Shard easily added the extras.  21 minutes gone and Lymm had narrowed the gap to 26-10.

Things now calmed down for a while and there were no further scores added for over 10 minutes.  Through this period though, Lymm were starting to look more assured.  The set piece was solid and most of the action was now being played out in the Yorkshiremen’s territory.  Then on 33 minutes, Otley winger Wells was carded for a professional foul as Lymm applied pressure in the Otley red zone.  With their numerical advantage, Lymm opted for the scrum and moved the ball to the blind side where Otley’s Crossland halted the move with a deliberate knock-on, earning himself a 10-minute breather and reducing Otley to 13-men.  Morris then took a quick tap penalty to score, leaving Shard an easy conversion.  34 minutes gone and Lymm were back in the game at 26-17 with a two man advantage for the remainder of the half – surely another try was on the cards….

Indeed it was, but remarkably it was scored by Otley.   Having weathered Lymm pressure for the next 5 minutes, Otley finally got their hands on the ball and a deft chip over the advancing Lymm back-line was collected by their impressive fullback Dinsdale, who outpaced the cover defence to score.  The missed conversion proved to be the final act of a breathless half.  31-17.

Half Time:  OTLEY 31 – 17 LYMM

The question on the Lymm supporters’ lips was whether that last Otley try would take the wind out of Lymm’s sails, stopping the momentum that had been building through the second 20 minutes of the first half.  It didn’t take long to find out, as Lymm returned to the match with steely intent and purpose, dominating play from the restart – although it did take a further 6 minutes to break the Otley defensive resolve.  Having turned over possession just outside the Otley 22, the ball was taken through a couple of phases creating a gap which centre Steve Pilkington ghosted through to score from 15m.  Shard’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.  31-22.

Lymm now had the bit between their teeth and were quickly on the attack again with fullback Jack Reynolds making a brilliant break from halfway before linking with Ben Thompson, who ran in from 10m to score near the right-hand touchline, earning Lymm their try bonus point and reducing the deficit to 4 points.  The conversion was unsuccessful.  31-27 after 50 minutes.

From the restart, Josh Hadland who had been a defensive dynamo throughout, sustained a head knock, forcing him to out of the game.  On 55 minutes, Lymm scored again to get their noses in front for the first time.  A 22m drop out by Otley was sent deep into Lymm territory, where it was collected by Morris.  He chipped over the advancing first line Otley defence, regathered and then kicked behind the last line of defenders.  As the ball headed into the Otley in-goal area the chase was on.  With the bouncing ball evading the Otley fullback, it fell nicely for Harry Martin to touch down to register the Lymm score and give Shard an easy conversion. 31-34 after 55 minutes.

Lymm had enjoyed a tremendous 35-minute period and were now very much in the ascendancy, winning the collisions and taking play to Otley at every opportunity, and forcing them to make mistakes – one more Lymm try would surely be enough to break Otley’s spirits.  What could possibly go wrong….

On 60 minutes, Joe Higgins won Lymm a penalty with some excellent work at the breakdown.  The option was taken to kick for goal.  The attempt failed, maybe with the momentum that Lymm had at that time, a kick to the corner would have been the better option…  From the restart, Lymm fielded the ball in their own 22 and put up a high kick which was taken by Dinsdale about 30m from his own line.  The fullback then embarked on an outstanding run through a hole in the advancing Lymm defensive line before being halted 10m short of Lymm’s try line, but he found Stead in support to score under the posts for a converted try.  38-34 after 62 minutes.

Lymm were now making the mistakes.  The restart went directly into touch, a scrum penalty followed giving Otley an attacking lineout – how the tables had turned at the blink of an eye.  A couple of minutes later and another self-inflicted wound presented Otley with another try.  Having recovered one partially charged down clearance kick, Lymm immediately had another charged down, with the ball ballooning into the grateful arms of winger Wells who put a kick in over the remnants of the Lymm defensive line, before winning the footrace to score.  Stead added the extras.  45-34.

Whilst there were still 13 minutes left to play, try as they could, Lymm couldn’t regain the momentum and, remarkably, this last period played out with no further scoring by either side.

Full Time:  OTLEY 45   –  34 LYMM

Director of Rugby Adam Fletcher, commented:

“We were hit by a whirlwind of points in the first 20 minutes. Otley were excellent during that period.  I thought from 20 minutes to 65 minutes we were outstanding. Our attack shape looked brilliant, and we took our chances.  Leading 34-31 with 15 minutes to go we maybe lost a little bit of concentration and let Otley get back in the game. Otley finished the game strong.

I’m really proud of the boys and happy with the improvements the forwards made at maul time from last week.  We need the break, hopefully we will have some boys back for the visit of Hull Ionians in 3 weeks.”

Squad: Gav Woods (114); James Pitcher* (49); Matty Hand* (88); James Yates* (c) (106); Rhys Lilly* (38); Sean Callender (7); Harry Martin (37); Josh Hadland* (27); Callum Morris (20); Tom Shard* (117); Paddy Jennings* (33); Ste Pilkington* (48); James Kimber* (92); Andy Williams* (6); Jack Reynolds (7). Bench – Joe Higgins (10); Beh Thompson (14); Alex Stewart* (8); Joe Johnson* (6); Jack Stride (4).
( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances

* Former Lymm Academy/M&J player

Referee: Gavin Jones

Match Report: Andy Leach

In the weekends other games Lymm 2nd XV lost at home 5 – 40 to Chester. Lymm Eagles won away at Buxton 11 – 33



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