Rugby: Wolves continue to fly high

Saturday 9th. November 2019

North 1 West

Wilmslow 59 – 14 Bowdon

The Wolves continue to fly high with this nine try demolition job of near neighbours Bowdon.The last time these two sides had met was back in March 2008, when Wilmslow scraped a narrow win before going on to win the South Lancashire and Cheshire League a fortnight late.

Eleven years on, only three of the players from that game turned out in this one, Bob MacCallum for Wilmslow and Neil Bright and Willie Landmann for Bowdon. Paradoxically, Wilmslow started this game top of the league, just as they were back then; Bowdon were tenth just two spots higher than this time out.

This though was another day and the Wolves set their stall out in the very first play of the game. Bowdon allowed MacCallum's kick off to go into touch and from the lineout, the Wolves stole the Bowdon throw. The ball fairly zipped along their back line for right winger Sam Cutts to cut inside and race away to score. Less than a minute had been played. This was just a harbinger of what was to come.

Throughout, the pace of the Wolves' game was always a good notch above their Bowdon opponents. The ball didn't always stick but when they had possession, there was always the threat that the Bowdon defensive line could be broken by any one of a number of Wilmslow players. In contrast, Bowdon just didn't have that kind of cutting edge, despite a good half hour spell either side of half time.

Wilmslow's second score came on the quarter hour from a penalty lineout just inside Bowdon's twenty two. Alex Hewitt made a clean catch and the pack gathered round to mount an unstoppable drive, which ended with No. 6 Jack Masters touching down. The Wolves were now beginning to turn the screw as they consistently stretched the Bowdon defence.

Three tries then came along in the space of eight minutes. First scrum half Sean Street took a quick short penalty, catching everybody unaware except James Coulthurst who took the pass to score as easy a try as he ever will. Wilmslow were then awarded a scrum on halfway from the restart and incisive running and handling led to Street taking an inside pass for the first of his three scores.

An acrobatic take by Conor McMurdock at the next restart was a prelude to yet another bout of multiphase play and passing, which saw Jamie Kingdon cross unopposed for the fifth try. MacCallum converted the lot and it was 35-0.

There was now something of a Bowdon revival, out for the count they most certainly weren't. They were unlucky to be penalised for holding on in a try scoring position and a couple of minutes later the Wolves were relieved to put the ball out of play for half time with their line still in tact. Helped by a number of Wilmslow handling and kicking errors at the start of the second period, Bowdon began to put the phases together and were soon rewarded by a try from their right winger Ben Thomas.

It was cut and thrust by both teams for the whole of the third quarter until the Wolves' superior fitness enabled them to run away with it in the last twenty minutes. A typical sniping run by Street earned him his second try, captain Robert Taylor then touched down after Ollie Lee had snaffled a loose lineout ball from a Bowdon throw and in the closing minutes against a tiring Bowdon side Street got his third and Kingdon chased a little grubber to touch down for the final score.

In between, Bowdon had got their second try when the Wolves, trying to run everything at that stage, knocked on in front of their own posts allowing Bowdon to put their left winger Harry Martin in for a tidy enough score from the set piece.

Once again, coach Chris Jones had to dig deep into his larder to fill the gaps in his line up. Ollie Stockwin in only his second appearance in the Wolves front row let nobody down, Rick Parker coming on as a debutant sub at loose head will have had his father, a former Wilmslow prop over twenty five years ago, purring with delight on the touchline and what can one say about the diminutive Conor McMurdock.

In the past, he's appeared as a hooker, a winger, a scrum half, a fly half and now this time as a hooker again. He may never be an automatic first team choice for any position but there's more to rugby than just that. McMurdock has always been the ultimate club and team man and he showed that again with no little ability and a stirring performance. There was also a stand out forty minutes from Danny Kennedy, playing at No. 8, before he had to leave the field injured. With his departure, the Wolves just seemed to lose a bit of the aggressive drive that he brings to the side.

Overall though, the coaches, the two Js, Jones and Jennings, should have been more satisfied than not with what their players delivered. There will always be points on which they can improve but results going into this game suggested that Bowdon would find it hard going and not just because of the heavy state of the pitch.

Nine tries keep the Wolves credentials on track but they now have three of the league's heavyweights to face in succession and that will give us an indication of just how good they can really be. Next week they travel to Lancaster to face their old foes, Vale of Lune. On the pitch, games against Vale are always closely contested but off it there's always a sense of ambience and good will between the two clubs.

On the adjoining pitch, the Vikings, Wilmslow's second string completed a good weekend for the club by seeing off Helsby 67-0 to stay at the top of Intermediate League 2 South.

Photos: Danny Kennedy on the charge, Jamie Kingdon has Ollie Lee and Sean Street to give him support and Bowdon’s No. 15 Will Nicholson has a whole pack of Wolves led by Sean Street coming at him.

Match report by David Pike.

Rugby, Wilmslow Rugby Club