Hawcoat Park (39) v Trafford MV (38)
Saturday 8th October 2016
On a great day for rugby, played at Trafford’s tremendous new club house and facilities, the maroon and whites turned on a tremendous team performance for 60 minutes and with a score at one point 10 – 34 for once our followers could have been excused for thinking at least this will be one match that we will not be panicking as we approached the end of the game – not the case!
We made a great start and scored in the first minutes, in our own half when awarded a penalty on a ‘free ball’ the ball was quickly moved through hands by James Howden and Chris Burns, centre Grady Slater made some ground before parting to winger Glenn Kaighan. He showed good pace to beat his man on the outside drawing the cover he passed inside to the supporting George Smith who touching the ball for the first time on his Hawcoat Park debut went over for the try near to the posts. Howden converted 0 – 7.
This score set the tone for the first 30 minutes of the first half where the maroon and white pack were dominating most phases putting us on the front foot. The Trafford defence was strong but they had to work overtime to keep out the likes of the rampaging Jason Priss and inspirational captain Danny White. After White was held just short of the line all the pressure eventually told. Hardworking hooker Adam Grainger recycled the ball quickly and when quickly moved out wide centre Chris Burns ran well into space to touch down from 30 metres. Howden slotted over a great conversion and soon after added a 30 metre penalty kick 0 – 17.
At this point scrum half Sam Hilton had to leave the field, playing his first game for some time he was having a good game slotting straight back in before he got a knock to the head and suffered some concussion.
Hilton was followed soon after by the Trafford prop with a red card, I am sure out of frustration he threw a punch at Priss in front of the ref who indicated he had no option but to dismiss him. The game was evened up for 10 minutes when skipper White received a yellow for a mistimed high tackle.
In this spell Trafford finished the first half strongly. With almost their first attacking spell in our half their centre ran strongly to touch down for a try. This was converted and soon after Trafford added a penalty of their own. The half time score of 10 – 17 was not really a reflection of the game and how well we had performed, that said fair play to Trafford who defended and were working very hard to keep us out.
We started the second half as strongly as the first, the back row of Callum Ramsay, Will Mallinson and replacement Tim Clark were having outstanding games with their differing styles complementing each other. Jonny Burrows who started in the back row before slotting in at scrum half to cover for Hilton is another who has started the season really consistently. The handling and team support play was proving too hot for Trafford to handle at this stage and three top notch trys followed. Full back Smith was having an outstanding game causing problems every time he burst into the line and looking assured as the last line of defence. From one strong run he combined well with Slater and Burrows to free up Kaighan on the outside. As the cover got across to him he slipped a neat pass to the supporting Priss who most unusually for him had a ‘walk in’ try. The conversion was missed. However, soon after during another spell of pressure outstanding second row Ashley Mowat showed great strength to power over from 15 metres 10 – 27. The best try of the lot came straight from the restart White had to use all his height to take a high kick. After making some hard yards and the front row of Andy Kent, Grainger and Priss setting the platform, fly half Howden moved the ball out wide Smith burst through again on a strong run before passing to the supporting Will Coles to run under the posts from 30 metres out. Certainly one of the best maroon and whites trys for some time. Howden converted 10 -34.
Trafford came right back and created a good try of their own with their prop touching down under the posts for a converted try, 17 – 34.
Mallinson appeared to settle our nerves when touching down for our sixth try. Picking the ball up at the base of the scrum he went blind and combined well with name sake Coles who slipped a neat ball back inside to Mallinson who forced his way over in typical fashion. 17 – 39.
The rest of the game was all Trafford, they clearly decided upon an initial strategy of running everything to try and get a bonus point for four trys and then quickly realised a further bonus point for finishing within 7 points of our score was on.
With their lively scrum half and mobile back row running everything 3 trys all converted followed. Not sure if we took our foot off the peddle thinking the job was done but after the performance before we are going to have to learn to finish off games in this very competitive North Lancs/Cumbria league. This is taking nothing away from the way Trafford finished off the game scoring 3 cracking trys thankfully the last of which came with no time to restart. Final score 38 – 39 and yet another Hawcoat Park that was brilliant to watch certainly if you were a neutral.
Disappointed at the way we finished, the whole squad can feel really proud of their performance and the style of play to achieve an important great win on the road. A special mention for prop Andy Kent with regular John Donnan not available and Ryan Milner crying off late ill, Andy showed real commitment playing the full 80 minutes in the front row. It was great to see both wingers Will Coles and Glenn Kaighan seeing more ball and running well. Will Mallinson took the Trafford Man of the Match award but must have been pushed all the way by Callum Ramsay whose work rate was outstanding. To finish off a good day Mallinson won the Man of the Match drink off.
A special mention for Manchester Society referee John Pemberton who still playing a bit had a real feel for the game and controlled the game in an outstanding way.
Report By John Horne.