Hawcoat Park 1st XV v Wigton

Hawcoat Park 10 Wigton 7

Saturday 14th December 2019

For the last game of the decade it was an icey cold strong wind blowing off the sea right across the pitch making playing conditions very difficult for both teams. With both senior sides unusually at home on the same day and with the usual late disruptions the first priority was to balance out playing resources to ensure the club’s immediate priority of retaining two teams.

High flying Wigton arrived early to warm up for the game, the maroon and white lads were also warming up but downstairs in the hall practicing their moves for the social event of the year the annual players cabernet evening!

This differing approach to pre match preparations was possibly reflected in the opening exchanges as it was all Wigton from the start. Flowing backs moves and accurate line out throwing were extremely difficult in the strong wind so Wigton adopted a sound game plan of short forward drives and going through the phases with their bigger pack. All the play was in our half as Wigton continued to pound away. However it was during this important period our lads set the tone for the remainder of the game with a steely determined defensive effort. Returning from injury back row Alfie White as usual led from the front along with the likes of the experienced front row of Andy Kent, Adam Grainger and the evergreen Col Niven. Young lads Jack Ostin and Connor Doughty followed their example with their work rate and as a collective we somehow managed to keep the powerful Wigton side out and it was 0-0 still midway through the first half.

Another player returning from a shoulder injury scrum half Jack Shannon was setting back in well and clever use of the wind from half back partner Will Coles slowly got us down into the Wigton half. Full back Lewis Sayle was running well and causing real problems every time he burst into the line.25mins in and from our first real spell of pressure in the Wigton 22 we got the first try. No 8 Mike Lightfoot was enjoying a good tussle with his opposing back row and following good work by him and Sayle plus both hard-working centres Jack Sutherland and skipper Chris Burns a position was set up where Alfie White could defy his size and somehow force his way over from close range through would be tacklers.
The difficult conversion was missed. Half time 5-0.The game remained a tight arm wrestle in the second half as Wigton cranked up the pressure to get back into the game and our determined defensive efforts continued. Wingers Benji Platt and Glenn Kaighan not surprisingly saw little ball but both did well with Kaighan making one timely interception and clearing run when a try looked on.
Midway through the half Wigton got their try. Moving the ball away from the forward battle good handling got the ball out wide to put their winger in space to score wide out and importantly the very difficult conversion was added.5-7.
A hard enjoyable to watch game played in the proper pre Christmas spirit continued and just as it looked Wigton were going to hang on we managed to get the winning try in the closing minutes. Second rows John Donnan and Corey Doughty were taking the ball up well as we applied some sustained pressure with this time Wigton defending strongly. Now almost playing as a back row that man fullback Lewis Sayle was firstly held up over the line and then soon after had another go and this time showed good determination to force his way over. The difficult conversion was missed. Full time 10-7.

It was appropriate that White and Sayle were our try scorers as they were the stand out forward and back respectfully but this really was a team effort to earn this narrow win and set up for an enjoyable cabaret night when news came through the A team lads had also won.
A word for Millom based referee Paddy Loughlin who sensibly controlled the game well. Also for Wigton with all the ball and territorial advantage they enjoyed they will have made the long trip home up the M6 wondering just how they lost this game but as always stopped for a few beers and are good company as a committee and club supporters and players generally.

John Horne
Hawcoat Park RU.

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