LRGS v Kings Macclesfield, Sep 19th 2015

LRGS v Kings Macclesfield: 19th Sep 2015

The first home game of the year always comes with anticipation. Anticipation for the familiar “tin can” changing rooms, the narrow pitch and the rousing cries of “C’mon Lancaster!” from Mr. Furlong-Brown. The first home game against a strong Kings Macclesfield side left me excited, if not a little nervous.
The day started with a misty warm-up and a damp ground. The pitch felt good, not hard nor too soft. Whilst we were warming up we noticed the gathering throngs of people readying for the game, a home crowd to look forward to and it was fantastic to see some new faces amongst the old faithful. As the crowd watched we came out onto the pitch just in time for the sun to break free from the clouds, giving us an opportunity to play our style.
The game kicked off to us, we secured possession and pinned them back, giving us time to re-organise our lines. Kings attacked from the lineout and although the defence was good, they put us under some pressure. In the first frantic few minutes, penalties were given on both sides as both teams pushed the edge of what the referee would allow. We were afforded a lineout and attacked well from it, driving them up the pitch. They cheekily didn’t compete but sent a man around the to tackle the man at the back of our maul. Luckily, Mr Rice had been hiding in the bushes when they played Manchester Grammar so we expected what was to come, we kept the ball at the front with the jumper, who made it clear to the ref that he hadn’t passed the ball back.
Penalty to Lancaster. We kicked into the corner but a mistake at the lineout gave them the ball and they pinned us back to the half way – chance gone! Possession from then on went mainly their way as we failed to get on the front foot and attack. After some time in defence we found ourselves on our 10 meter line, their line-out. A good line out by them was put under pressure by us. We drove them to a standstill. However in doing so we had committed too many men and the side of the maul was left relatively unguarded. They saw our weakness and pressed to the right, clearing through and touching down. A try to them. We were down.
We were furious with ourselves for our slow start and went back for the kick off determined to make amends. We kicked off, a big up and under, giving the forwards perfect opportunity to chase. Robb accelerated towards the man about to catch, who promptly jumped in the air. Big tackle, poorly timed and after lots of commotion the yellow was brought out. We were down to 14 men. We carried on undeterred. The next few minutes the ball switched possession and even more penalties were given by both sides.
We used the line out well at some points, and pressured their 5-man lineout well. The backs defended well, not looking under pressure or fading in the tackle. However they retained the ball well and we ended up under pressure, in the same corner of the pitch where they had previously scored. Close to our line, they kept trucking it up. They hit. We tackled. They hit again. We tackled again, continuing for several phases, until we got under them, holding the man up, job nearly done but the maul collapsed sideways and their man managed to wriggle around and dot the ball down. 2 tries down. We need to play!
The second half began much as the first, scrappy but ferocious at the breakdown; they dominated possession from the kick off but our defence was good. We exchanged penalties, Finan scoring ours. The frustration was that our lack of possession was our own fault, we were too eager, forcing the 50/50 pass rather than holding on, going for the big bosh into contact but knocking on in the process or getting ferried into touch by covering tackles. We just couldn’t get continuity. The defence however held firm.
Then the tide began to turn, forwards carried better, giving the backs cleaner ball, we began to work as one, the tempo rose, we were into our stride at last! Our fitness shone through and we knew we were now on top. We kept our set piece solid, especially the scrum; Prakash and Dave never took a backwards step. We started playing our phases, breaking through in the midfield and trucking it to within a few feet of their line. We hit them a few times, going nowhere but quick thinking from Robb saw him diving onto the line, with bodies all over the place. The try was called. We were back in the game.
This was a shot in the arm at the right time and from there we lit the game up with renewed enthusiasm, starting to move through the phases and attack effectively. Jowett came on to add a bit of maverick flair as well as his no. 9 weight to mauls! Taylor also came on, working hard in the forwards and dominating his man at the front of the lineout. We pressured them again, working until we were close to their line. The call for the ball wide went out, and we responded instantly passing through the quick hands of Finan and Stott to Owen who spun it to Todd who bruised his way over the line. 15-13. We were ahead for the first time during the game and playing at last!
We kept the ball, not kicking nor giving it away. The last 10 minutes we retained our fitness, keeping the scrum solid and the hands true. We were awarded a penalty and Finan kicked it cleanly, putting us 5 points in front. They would have to score. We didn't relax but victory was in sight. In the last moments we pressed forward, pick and goes making meters. The backs made huge ground and the forwards followed it up. We were close. The exerted our pressure, coming within 10m of the line. We went forward again, the front five carrying well. We kept the tempo high, not giving them time to compose themselves. Under pressure they infringed and we were awarded another penalty, easy decision – take the kick.
Now they would need to score twice. Finan struck and the ball narrowly scraped the wrong side of the post. No need to panic. Just keep playing. We wanted more, we attacked again, the same as before; continuity, phases, keeping them guessing. We were making ground, another score seemed to be on the cards, we set up a driving maul in open play and forced them to within meters of their line, then we went wide a small knock on at the back of the ruck was seen and the whistle was blown. I thought it was their ball, but the whistle kept on going. The game over, celebrations all round for the first win of the year. Cake for the three boys whose birthdays were recent. (Lacky, Joe and Myself) The cake modelled on the three boys and the coaches, Mr. Rice looking particularly accurate.
A great game of rugby and credit to Kings Macclesfield who pushed us all the way, a good performance in the second half from us was enough to turn it around. Good to see the impact of the subs, fighting for places which keeps everyone on their toes. Great to go into our Lancashire cup with a win behind us.
Squad: 1. Bennett 2. Robb 3. Thanikachalam 4. Helme 5. Hunt 6. Barrow 7. Towers 8. Cuerden 9. Robinson Brooks 10. Owen 11. Todd 12. Stott 13. Finan 14 Bargh 15. Whitelock
Replacements: 16. Lack 17. Jowett 18. Taylor
Match report by Zach.



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