Saturday 27th. February
NW Intermediate Leagues : Division 1
Rossendale 10-10 Wilmslow Vikings
With the Wolves having a week off whilst most of the remaining sides in N1W played re-arranged fixtures, the Vikings became the centre of the club's attention. They've been the form side in Division 1 of the NW Intermediate league set up for most of the season and found themselves nine points clear at the top of this league as they went round the M60 up to Rossendale. The league is theirs to win.
Unfortunately, there was a mix and match look to their side. Several regulars were missing to other pursuits – skiing was mentioned – and consequently the Vikings could never really put anything together and play the way they have been playing. In the end, they were extremely fortunate to escape with a draw and if their hosts had had a goal kicker in their ranks, they wouldn't have done.
The men of Rossendale have no such problems with rugby and skiing conflicts, having their own artificial ski slope which they can practice on at any time. They had their best available side out for this one and were clearly intent on upsetting the league leaders. With just half a dozen games to play in the run in, the Vikings will have learnt that they're now the side to beat and they can expect more of the sort of treatment handed out by a very combative and aggressive Rossendale team in the games to come.
On the day, the Vikings started well, taking it to the opposition. Hone Karaka looked a threat every time he got a ball on the left wing, No. 10 Elliot Rowe was stroking the ball nicely with his boot into attacking areas and the pack with Richard Storrow, Jack Masters and jack Eggleston all noticeable were keen and eager to go about their work. From a close in lineout on the quarter hour, they eventually managed to drive prop Adam Taher over for a try, converted by Cono McMurdock, today playing at full back.
And that was really all that we saw of them as an attacking force for the remainder of the half. From the restart a clearing kick against a stiff breeze coming off the hills beyond the pitch handed possession to the Rossendale side and that got them on their way. A scrum on the Vikings line led to a well taken try under the posts but with no kicker the simple conversion attempt, in front of the posts with the wind behind you was put wide. The Vikings were forced to defend for the whole of the second quarter which to their credit, they did well.
With the wind now in their favour, they had a good third quarter and really should have had more for their efforts than a McMurdock penalty but it was a case of too many sole runners, a team of individuals and a lack of team work. They were still going reasonably well when a pass was dropped in mid field and seized upon by the home side. It was their turn to play and for the remaining fifteen minutes or so, they put the Vikings defence under increasing examination. They might have scored on more than one occasion before they did. By then it was down to uncontested scrums and from one of these, they were able to barge over for the equalizing score with just seconds remaining. It wasn't a difficult kick to win the match but the ball came off the uprights. There was just time for the restart and that was it.
Vikings No. 8 Tom Bull breaks from the scrum, scrum half Sean Ferrari looks on.
Match report by David Pike.