Sheffield Tigers 47 – 35 Lymm
1st Team Match Report | Saturday November 25 2023
Lymm thwarted in thoroughly entertaining encounter
Lymm headed through the Peak District on a beautiful sunny but crisply cold afternoon to Dore Moor to take on Sheffield Tigers, an encounter which in the 5 matches played between the clubs since April 2007 had failed to yield a single Lymm victory. Casting this history to one side, the Lymm squad were optimistic that their season, which had not yet delivered the results that their competitive performances had deserved, was on the verge of changing. The match day squad had lost Joe Johnson, Jack Reynolds and Ben Thompson from the previous week due to injury/unavailability replacing them with the available/fit again Josh Hadland, Harry Martin and Joe Senior, with Andy Rowley promoted from the bench to the starting XV.
Lymm started brightly and were immediately on the front foot with the early exchanges being mainly played out in Tigers’ territory. Edging towards their opponents’ 22, the referee signalled an infringement by Sheffield. Spotting they had a penalty advantage, Cal Morris put an aerial chip toward the left flank, which Rowley competing against a couple of Sheffield defenders got to first, expertly tapping the ball back into the hands of Sean Callender who strolled in unchallenged to score by the posts, presenting Tom Shard with a simple conversion. Seven minutes gone and Lymm were on the scoreboard, 0-7.
As has been the case for much of the season, Lymm’s advantage didn’t last long and 4 minutes later, it was back to parity. Spotting an offense in what appeared to be a relatively innocuous challenge on halfway, Sheffield were awarded a penalty. As can often happen, one leads to two and Sheffield soon had an attacking line-out 5 metres from the Lymm line, from which they formed a solid rolling maul with hooker William Archer claiming the try, easily converted by William Baker. 7-7.
Tigers were now on the front foot and play was soon back in the Lymm half. Through a period of persistent probing by the Yorkshiremen the Lymm defence held firm until, on 17 minutes when Number 8 Joshua Redfern, spotted a chink in Lymm’s defence around the ruck to waltz through to score by the posts….or did he? To the spectators 2m away behind the posts (this correspondent and several Tigers supporters included) it appeared that in “showboating” to ground the ball Redfern had dropped it! Unfortunately, though for Lymm’s cause, the only person who mattered saw it differently and the try was awarded, and the simple conversion made. 14-7.
Straight back came Lymm, registering a second try which was remarkably similar to their first. Attacking on the Tigers’ 22, Lymm were awarded a penalty advantage, again Morris put an aerial chip towards the left wing; again Rowley got his hands to the ball first; but this time he regathered the ball himself to race in to score under the posts. Conversion made by Shard, and the scores were again level. 14-14 after 26 minutes.
Lymm were next to break the deadlock, reaping a fair reward for a period of sustained pressure with centres James Kimber and Ste Pilkington and props young Ralph McEachran and Matty Hand in particular, making inroads in the Tigers’ defence. With this building pressure and the Sheffield defence becoming more and more stretched, a gap was sure to appear – and appear it did, sufficient for Shard to dummy his way over and score just in from the left-hand touch, then making the difficult conversion himself. 14-21 after 36 minutes.
Tigers were determined to level the scores again and the half played out with them pounding the Lymm line. But this time the defence held firm, the referee blowing for oranges as Lymm managed to hold up a Sheffield attacker over the line.
Half Time: SHEFFIELD TIGERS 14 – 21 LYMM
Lymm came out the blocks quickest after the break and were soon back in the Sheffield 22 and registering their 4th, bonus point, try which was really a consequence of Lymm’s clever kicking game. First Morris, put a kick behind the Sheffield defence which had the Yorkshiremen scrambling to recover 5m from their own line. The clearance kick which didn’t make much ground was collected by Morris who then put a cross field kick to left wing Paddy Jennings, who raced towards the corner. Whilst the Sheffield defence managed to prevent the score, Jennings stayed in the field of play. The recycled ball made its way to the hands of Shard who put up another pinpoint cross field kick, this time to the right flank where, in competition with a Sheffield defender, Martin expertly plucked the ball out of the air and reached out to dot the ball down. Shard again making the conversion. 14-28 after 45 minutes.
Now, what Lymm needed most of all was a period of calm with Sheffield pinned back in their own half…. Back in the real world, back came Sheffield adding 3 tries and 2 conversions in the next 14 minutes. The first of these, Archer’s second of the match, was from the inevitable rolling maul – albeit there was more than a suggestion of a Sheffield knock on in the lead up to the score. The second was scored by centre James Broadley, who cleverly exploited a gap in the stretched Lymm three-quarter defence; and the third by replacement Harry Cartwright in the left-hand corner. During this period, Lymm’s Morris had been yellow-carded following repeated Lymm infringements. 33-28 after 62 minutes.
Then at the blink of an eye, Lymm were back in front. From the restart, the Tigers’ scrum-half Ryan Holmes attempted to clear the ball upfield, only for Martin to charge down the kick. The ball looped back into the in-goal area and appeared for all money to be about to bounce out of play. However, it landed on its point and went into reverse, eluding both the chasing Martin and Sheffield defender, but falling kindly for Kimber to ground for a try. Again, Shard, who had certainly brought his kicking boots with him, made the difficult conversion. 33-35 after 63 minutes.
On 69 minutes and with Morris still off the field, Broadley scored his second try, finishing off a fine break by his fly-half Baker to put Sheffield’s noses back in front. 40-35.
With time running out, Sheffield took a long-range penalty to extend their lead beyond one score – only for the kick to fall short of the target. Play was now getting more broken as both teams were focused on making the next score – Lymm to get back in front and Sheffield to make their lead secure. In the end and with just a couple of minutes left on the clock, Sheffield prevailed when Holmes finished off an excellent 60m break, started by centre Barney Goatley, to score in the right-hand corner, Baker adding the tricky conversion 47-35.
With one minute left on the clock, Lymm were again on the attack looking to secure a losing bonus point. A penalty was won and the kick to the corner presented Lymm with one last chance. Sadly though, and for the only time in the whole match, the Lymm line- out misfired, and the resultant overthrow was gratefully collected by Sheffield who then despatched the ball onto Dore Moor to the great relief of the home supporters.
Full Time: SHEFFIELD TIGERS 47 – 35 LYMM
Whilst this was another exhilarating and frustratingly close defeat for Lymm, the performance of the team was again one of which to be incredibly proud. However, players and supporters alike are certainly seeing that, at this level, it comes down to very fine margins with the odd small error or decision being the difference between winning and losing.
Director of Rugby Adam Fletcher, commented:
“Another frustrating result. I thought that for 60 minutes we were outstanding. We have to quickly learn how to close games out, as we have found ourselves in this situation on a number of occasions but have ended up losing.
“To score 35 points at Dore Moor is a massive positive and we will take that momentum into the Preston Grasshoppers match next week.”
Squad: 1. Ralph McEachran (5); 2. James Pitcher* (53); 3. Matty Hand* (92); 4. Gav Woods (117); 5. Rhys Lilly* (42); 6. Sean Callender (11); 7. Harry Martin (40); 8. Josh Hadland* (28); 9. Callum Morris (24); 10. Tom Shard* (121); 11. Paddy Jennings* (37); 12. Ste Pilkington* (52); 13. James Kimber* (96); 14. Andy Williams* (10); 15. Andy Rowley (70). Bench – Jordan Widdrington* (232); Nick Ashton (115); Jake Ashall* (136); Joe Senior* (28); Nathan Beesley* (55).
( ) = number of Lymm First XV League appearances
* Former Lymm Academy/M&J player
Referee: Michael Harris
Match Report: Andy Leach
Photos: Tim Martin
Back row Sean Callendar scoring his try
Full back Andy Rowley on his way to score
Lymm’s hooker James Pitcher on the attack
Scrum half Cal Morris on the charge
Fly half Tom Shard barreling over for the third try
Harry Martin scoring Lymm’s fourth try