Littleborough v Hawcoat Park

Littleborough (37) v Hawcoat Park (19)

Saturday 1st April, 2017

In a much improved performance it was a lack of numbers that was to ultimately help towards certainly the size of this defeat.  Travelling with a bare 15 players and no fit replacements after ten minutes play Ryan Milner injured his shoulder and had to leave the play meaning we played out the rest of the game with 14 men.  It was unfortunate because young Milner’s driving runs played a part in a great start by the maroon and whites.
For those first 10 minutes the forwards put together some good mistake free phases and all the play was in the Littleborough half.
Following good driving runs by Ash Mowat and Jason Priss, skipper Dan White was on hand to  force his way over from close range, fly half James Howden converted 0 – 7.
Soon after we were still controlling play and on the attack when Littleborough levelled up the score.  From their own 22 and moving the ball their fly half spotted space out wide and put in a clever cross kick for their winger to run onto at pace and following some good inter passing touch down for a converted try, 7 – 7.  Considering we were one man down we were doing well to match the solid Littleborough pack however mid was through the half they took the lead which they were to retain for the remainder of the game.  It came from another kick this time a shorter chip over our defensive line a kick on and a good bounce allowed their centre to touch down, 12 – 7.
As half time approached Littleborough cranked up the pressure, our front three of John Donnan, hooker Adam Grainger and Andy Kent were working hard in all aspects of play but there was still time to extend the lead.  Their strong running centre had been causing problems and fittingly following some good passing play he was the one to force his way over for a converted try.  Half time 19 – 7.
After the half time break we started the second half equally well.  Outstanding vice captain Will Mallinson was leading from the front and making ground all the time with his strong leg drives.  Mowat was dominating the line out with Littleborough often choosing not to compete we started to get our driving rolling maul going and 10 minutes into the half got back into the game when powerful prop using all his strength Priss forced his way over, 19 – 12.
Soon after Littleborough took the opportunity to put over a 30 metre penalty kick, 22 – 12.
On his return to the team tenacious scrum half Anthony Munday was having a good game with half back partner Howden handling and kicking well we had another good attacking spell.  Hard running centre Grady Slater went very close to scoring and although not seeing that much running ball the back three of full backs Lewis Sayle, wingers Will Coles and Chris Burns were making ground.  Following a good spell of pressure and good work by all action back row Callum Ramsay it was skipper White who forced his way over.  Howden converted to make the score 22 – 19.  The momentum was with us at this stage, however, entering the final 15 minutes as the 14 men began to tire and it was Littleborough who could freshen up with replacements who finished the stronger.
As they stretched the play they scored a further 3 good trys including another pin point long cross kick collected by their winger.  It is unusual to see one work well in a game but two well executed cross kicks in a game is a rarity.  Final score 37 – 19.
Littleborough deserved their win but the 14 lads who played 70 minutes of the game can take real credit for their commitment and efforts and at 22 – 19 were giving Littleborough a scare.
A mention for referee John Pickersgill from the Manchester who controlled the game well in a sensible approachable manner.
Also as always for Littleborough for their hospitality, it was great to catch up and congratulations to Brian for his 70th Birthday.

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