U13s at Manchester: another McIntyre special

Manchester U13 25 Fylde U13 25

A near full strength squad travelled Manchester RUFC (in Cheshire) and the day was set fair for a festival of running rugby, the pitch and facilities, as ever at our hosts, were superb. Manchester lined up with a number of big lads and despite the Fylde boys moving the ball with fluidity any chance of a break was quickly stopped by very stout defence. Indeed, both sides threw everything into the first 5 minutes without too much territory gained.

However, Manchester had a number of big quick runners and they soon ran into a few gaps. A combination of pace and only half tackles saw them run up a deserved 15-0 lead. Turnovers were going loose and Manchester were able to able to keep sustained pressure on. Things were looking bleak for the Fylde boys as Manchester continued to make first up tackles and if we did break through they had a couple of determined sweepers.

Godfrey was side-lined with what could have been a serious injury. The main positive from the half was the nudge in the scrum. Murray moved to tighthead and got the better of his man allowing Thompson to steal a couple of heels. Greenwood was able to get a bit of quick ball away and rumour has it a few forwards decided to hit a few rucks. Facey doesn’t need the ball to play rugby, show him a few rucks and a bit of mud and that lad is happy. Amr and Cowburn followed suit and gave us hope at half time.

We had the benefit of a slight slope. Fylde started the half well, O’Hara stepped into centre and immediately looked shar. He combined well with Shaw who got his barging runs going followed by a Lancashire quick  step dance move as he shimmied in field. Senior piled in to the breakdown and Stacey got front foot ball to show and go for the first try. All of a sudden it seemed to be a different game.

Simpson-Lutz who hadn’t been given a yard in the first half got some high knees going. Tomlinson and Gut treated the large crowd to their quick feet and smooth running style. Rae was coming into the line and offering some fine wide passes before he was squashed by their entire pack. Eventually pressure told and Simpson-Lutz headed wide for a fine score, then bagged a brace in similar style 3 minutes later. 15-15 each and great game was developing.

Manchester’s centres then got a bit of ball and once again earned a good long range score. Fylde went through the phases, Foulds started to win ruck ball at will but mysteriously finished his second match in a row without a speck of dirt on him. Greenwood and O’Hara changed the point of attack superbly and he went in at the corner for a really well deserved try.

The pack got the taste for counter-rucking and Fylde were in the ascendancy – unfortunately a loose pass and a couple of superb passes put a Manchester powerful runner away to make it 25-20. Only a few minutes to go, for once the bounce of the ball went Fylde’s way. The pack pounced and Henderson took them on. He had a quiet first half but now looked a lot livelier, he came in off his wing and barged over to make it 25-25. 2 minutes to go.

Mayhem ensued as neither side fancied claiming the ball. Manchester picked up a loose ball and found space only for McIntyre to offer a big shoulder and then win a turnover. Fylde moved the ball but typically solid defence put the attack into touch for full time to be announced. Perhaps a draw was the fair result. Manchester had some very fine runners but Fylde stuck at it and worked themselves back into the game.

I’d like to thank our hosts and wish them all the best for the rest of the season. A worthy mention to the ref too who did well to try and ignore the 13 pieces of advice he received at every breakdown.

Finally, special mention goes to Simpson-Lutz playing in his last game for Fylde before moving to Austria. Never knowingly on time, his fierce defence and athletic attacking will be sorely missed – and he’s a good lad too.

Graeme McIntyre