Rugby: Wolves get off to pleasing start for new coach

Saturday 31st, August 2019

Cheshire Vase

Wilmslow 67 – 19 Anselmians

The Wolves clearly found the pace of this Cheshire Vase match much more to their taste than anything they found themselves facing last season in the exalted Northern Premier League. Most of the players, who last season found themselves off the pace, looked sharp and fit for this opening match of the 2019 -20 campaign.

It was a pleasing start for new coach Chris Jones, who learnt his rugby in the Wilmslow mini and junior sections. He then played several seasons of senior rugby at the club before moving to Macclesfield for a distinguished ten year playing career.

Commenting on his first game in charge, he said "it wasn't perfect but eleven tries will do nicely. At times, we were clinical with ball in hand and we took our opportunities. If we didn't appear to retain the ball for long periods that was because we frequently broke the Anselmians defensive line off just a handful of passes with very few phases. The players have been working hard in preseason training, the attitude and vibes have been good and it showed in this game, which was a real team effort. They looked keen, full of confidence and most importantly have got themselves fit."

After a scrappy start by both sides, Wilmslow had four tries in the bank within fifteen minutes. Newcomer Mark Jennings at No. 12 scored the opening try after about five minutes. This was followed by a debutant try for No. 11 Jamie Kingdon, who went on to get a hat trick. The mercurial scrum half Sean Street was next on the score sheet and he too ended up with three tries. Ethan Harding at No.13 and hooker Tommy Wilkinson shared two tries each. The second Wilkinson try came from a catch and drive when Wilmslow had two players in the bin and only thirteen on the pitch.

Anselmians for their part had much more of the game than the score would suggest. For long periods in the second and third quarters, they had plenty of possession deep in the Wilmslow half of the field to score three tries. Generally though, they lacked the craft and pace to break down an obdurate Wolves defence, despite being awarded nearly three times the number of penalties that came Wilmslow's way. In fact without the referee's decisions in their favour and three Yellow Cards against the Wolves, it's questionable whether they would have scored more than once.

The consensus before and after is that they will become a much better team as the season proceeds and they get a couple more matches under their belt. Their mistakes were severely punished by the Wolves who were particularly lethal with turnover ball, won in their own half of the field. And then the Anselmians ran out of puff as the final quarter approached to allow Wilmslow to run away with it for five unanswered tries.

Next week, there will be a far harder test against Burnage, who beat the Wolves on their last visit in March 2018. Jones knows he's still got plenty to work on. The restarts were not always dealt with as well as they could have been, the penalty count against his team was far too high and some loose play was responsible for the Anselmians kick and chase try in the second half. Nevertheless there was much for him to savour. So far, so good!

Match report by David Pike.

Rugby, Wilmslow Rugby Club