Hawcoat Park (10) v Aspatria (73)
Saturday 22nd October, 2016
Missing influential skipper Danny White, Jason Priss and fly half James Howden and with the majority of the team almost climbing straight on the bus following a night starting in a hospitality box celebrating the tremendous achievements and career of former Barrow RL captain Liam Harrison this was a very difficult game against a very good Aspatria side. On a perfect October day for rugby and on a perfect pitch the pace right across the Aspatria back line was too much for the maroon and whites to handle as they were clinical in their finishing.
The exchanges up front were even, however, making use of the conditions, Aspatria ran the ball at every possible opportunity from everywhere on the pitch plus Aspatria fly half Jack Clegg booting conversion for fun from anywhere on the pitch and this made for a very difficult afternoon for the maroon and whites.
We started the game very well, controlling the ball well through phases to set up a good position in the Aspatria half during the first 5 minutes.
First fly half George Smith hit the post with a 35 metre penalty attempt before using this attempt to boot one over from a similar position, 0 – 3. Soon after Mike Lightfoot made a good 30 metre run from the base of the scrum.
As to be expected Aspatria cranked up their pressure running the ball out wide. As they did all game centres Matt Sayle and Chris Burns and full back Elliot McDermott were doing well in the defence department and after Burns managed to pull off one great cover tackle eventually the Aspatria back row and then strong running centre Dan Rooney breached our defence for converted trys, 14 – 3.
The third Aspatria try summed up their style of play, fielding the ball deep in his own half the speedy Aspatria full back ran the ball out wide combined well with his winger who after making ground and drawing over the cover defence slipped the ball inside to his supporting centre to run under the posts from 70 metres a great try to watch – if you were a neutral or home supporter! At this point hard working hooker Adam Grainger had to leave the play with a calf injury.
A fourth Aspatria try followed, before probably our only real plus point during the game. From a line out on the Aspatria 22, second row Ashley Mowat took a clean line out catch and confusing the Aspatria defence instead of turning to his support turned forward to run strongly and force his way over the line. Hard working fly half George Smith slotted over a good conversion 26 – 10. Unfortunately as half time approached there was still the time for Aspatria to add a further converted try, half time 33 – 10.
The second half was all Aspatria, props John Donnan and Andy Kent played the full 80 minutes and put in a real shift, however, with club stalwart Tim Clark off early for the injured Grainger coach Paul Burns had limited replacement resources. Aspatria on the other hand had a strong replacement bench and took the opportunity to regularly freshen up their players. Always under the cosh a further 6 Aspatria trys followed. We did have some spells near the Aspatria line both scrum half Jack Shannon and John Donnan went close but the Aspatria defence remained strong.
In difficult circumstances centres Burns and Sayle had solid games and it was good to see Sayle back in a maroon and white shirt. Club stalwarts Ray and Carmen Sayle could be justifiably proud to see all three sons Matt, Lewis and Rory on the pitch together.
Stand in skipper Will Mallinson took the Man of the Match award after yet another consistent hard working performance. A word also for referee Martin Maughan who as always controlled the game well and sensibly.
A game to put to the back of our minds as we prepare to welcome league leaders Fleetwood to Hawcoat Park with coming weekend.