Saturday 19th. January 2019
Northern Premier League
Lymm 20 – 12 Wilmslow
An entertaining error riddled game between these two sides, both struggling in the basement area of the league, eventually went the way of the home side. Wilmslow therefore remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, cast even further adrift by this fifteenth loss of the season, whilst an anxious Lymm team will have been mightily relieved to have held on for the four league points that keep them one spot above the relegation zone.
Appropriately enough, the game was played on the lower pitch at Beechwood, deemed to be in better condition than the normally used higher pitch adjacent to the Lymm clubhouse. It ended two tries apiece with the difference on the scoreboard being a conversion and two late first half penalties. Overall, Lymm probably did enough in the first fifty five minutes or so when they had the greater share of possession and field position to deserve their win but it was achieved in the face of a determined riposte from the Wolves, who dominated the final quarter.
'Patience' had been coach Rick Jones last word in the changing room before kick off and may be if his words had been better absorbed by his charges, the result could just have been different. An interception try by their influential Wolves centre Ethan Harding at the start of the final quarter seemed to install some belief into his team mates. From then on in, they certainly had sufficient possession of the ball in the right parts of the field to inflict some serious damage on their hosts but the old vulnerabilities of trying to compensate for a lack of real pace in the side by rushing and forcing things led to them being too loose with the ball. Whether a bit more patience and a bit less risk taking would have opened up more clear cut scoring opportunities is an open question.
Nevertheless, it was another spirited performance by the Wolves. After a sloppy start, during which they conceded a converted try within in a minute, they were tenacious in defence throughout, forcing Lymm to squander several first half scoring opportunities. Despite a debilitating run of results, 'No surrender' continues to be a defiant feature of their play this season.
Despite a dominant scrum, a well organised lineout, good ball retention and plenty of play in or around the Wilmslow twenty two, Lymm were restricted to that early try when their centre Richard Halford just scythed through the Wolves back line and to two additional penalties during the last minutes of the opening period. The first of these on the half hour was awarded when the Wolves were penalised, just after scoring themselves, at the breakdown for 'holding on' as No. 8 Alex Taylor drove out of defence following the restart and the second five minutes later when they lost a lineout and in the subsequent play, Adam Hewitt was dubiously penalised for playing the ball in an offside position.
There was some well judged first half kicking out of defence by Bob MacCallum and it was his penalty to the right hand far corner that set up Alex Taylor's try from a lineout after around twenty five minutes. On the balance of play though, Lymm were worth their 13-5 half time advantage.
They also made the brighter start to the second half. It was from a scruffy lineout in which one of their players escaped the referee's attention for playing the ball whilst offside, that they made ground which led to a penalty kick into the same far corner. Once again the Wolves defence got amongst them, the Lymm forwards couldn't get a drive going and they looked to have been driven back in some disorder when scrum half Tom Shard received the ball, spotted a gap and out of nothing raced through it to score their second try. At 20 – 5 it now looked ominous for the Wolves and you feared that with the comfort of a three score lead Lymm would now run away with it.
To the Wolves credit though, they raised their game to take charge for the time remaining. Harding had one of his best games as he continually probed in the centre. Alex Taylor, as one has come to expect of him, always carried well and tidied up several nasty looking backward moving scrums. Ollie Lee at open side was prominent more than once, the newcomer Harry O'Loughlin looked dangerous when he came on as a back row substitute and Jack Masters stood out as he put in eighty minutes of gritty toil. When Harding got his try, you could almost see some belief rising in the side as the home team visibly seemed to become anxious and to lose its shape but in the end the Wolves just didn't have enough to make their pressure tell and to save the day.
Photo: Alex Taylor leads a Wolves attack.
Match report by David Pike.