Kirkby Lonsdale 24 v 25 Rossendale
A personal view by Cammie Hodgkinson
Earlier in the season the tough Rossendale outfit had come from behind down the slope to nick the win in injury time at their Marl Pits ground. This meant Kirkby had some reckoning to do against the team now five points and three places above them in the mid table congestion and it would also be interesting to see how the visitors adapted to playing on a level pitch.
Kirkby’s task wasn’t helped by the fact that rumbustious number eight David Maka had not recovered from the injury he sustained against Ilkley the previous week, Alex Rogers starting at the back of the scrum. And there was further disruption when late illness kept Ross Towers off the bench, James Fishwick stepping up again from the Development XV. But the task was helped by the welcome sight of Skipper Ben Walker returning from his honeymoon travels to scrum half.
It was an overcast but pleasant enough afternoon with only a slight breeze at “Kirkby’s Underley Park”. Rossendale kicked off into the breeze and towards the town and applied the early pressure but it was Kirkby who scored first after seven minutes with a penalty from Tom Pickthall to lead 3 – 0. But this was against the run of play, Rossendale were dominating the early exchanges and took the lead five minutes later with a converted try 3 – 7 and extended this with a beautifully flighted kick to their right wing who took the ball well to score in the corner. No conversion this time but the visitors had a deserved lead at 3 – 12 and were looking like they could run away with the game.
A high tackle gave Kirkby a chance to narrow the gap and Pickthall took it to make it 6 – 12 as the first quarter ended. From their restart Rossendale were back in Kirkby territory but Kirkby had possession and from near his twenty two Walker flighted a kick down the right touchline. The over spin took the ball towards the line where the defender, under no pressure, suffered the worst nightmare when he fumbled the pickup and knocked on. Kirkby got a drive on from the scrum and looked like they might drive over but Rossendale then held it, Kirkby released the ball and number eight Alex Rogers charged over in great style for the try, the conversion was just wide but at 11 – 12 there was suddenly nothing in it after half an hour.
A scrum offence by Kirkby gave Rossendale a penalty which they put into touch near the right corner flag and a clean catch and drive took them over for their second try. This time converted to send the teams in at half time with the visitors in the ascendency at 8 – 19 and it looked an uphill task for Kirkby in the second half.
But Head Coach and Mr Motivator John Pickthall must have put in a half time pep talk because Kirkby came roaring out of the blocks at the kick off. A Pickthall penalty narrowed the gap to 11 – 19 as Kirkby began to dominate play, another closed it further to 14 – 19 and when Kirkby second row Matt Hughes crashed over for an unconverted try at the end of the third quarter the scores were level at 19 – 19.
Rossendale edged back in front with a penalty to make it 19 – 22 but were then undone by Scott Armstrong and Dave Barton. A strong looping run down the left took centre Armstrong into the Rossendale twenty two, a tackle did eventually come in but the ball was recycled to stand-off Dave Barton who waved his magic wand with a loop move which put the ball through a number of hands and ended with him scoring in the right corner.
The conversion was just wide but Kirkby had the lead at 24 – 22 with ten minutes to play and the win looked on, but the pendulum swung again. Kirkby were, perhaps a little harshly, penalised in kicking range and the Rossendale penalty was good to edge them back in front at 24 – 25 and that was how it ended.
Three tries apiece and a cracking game, if you had to watch it every Saturday you would have a lot of good days but once again Kirkby had to settle for a losing bonus point which makes ten so far in the season, the highest tally of such points in the league. Better to win games of course but the team is playing very well and it is a measure of the squad’s competitiveness that where they lose they lose narrowly as they settle in to rugby at this new high level.
1 Dan Thompson
2 Matt Holyland
3 Tyran Fagan
4 Gareth Gore
5 Matt Hughes
6 Craig Galbraith
7 Stuart Storey
8 Alex Rogers
9 Ben Walker
10 Dave Barton
11 Harry Huddleston
12 Tom Pickthall
13 Scott Armstrong
14 Harry Ralston
15 Martyn Knapton
16 Elliot Horner
17 James Fishwick
18 Matthew Bargh