Kirkby Lonsdale 3-28 Hull

True Grit

A personal view by Cammie Hodgkinson

They lost their opening game of the season by a single point away at Rossendale but arrived for this one having played 17 won 16 with 647 points for and only 157 against, an 89 – 0 thrashing of Kendal last week and a 14 points gap at the top between them and second was the impressive record Hull brought to Underley Park.

Annoyingly the weather forecast was spot on, heavy rain arrived just after Kirkby kicked off towards the clubhouse and it  teemed down for the rest of the match, it was so wet we might as well have been in New Zealand. Note taking was very difficult on a sodden pad which solidified overnight and attempts to open it on Sunday morning destroyed some of the evidence.

I can see that Kirkby hooker Dan Armistead having had treatment on the pitch limped off after three minutes, Alex Briggs coming off the bench, and that Hull scored a converted try three minutes later to lead 0 – 7. This from a backs move that started just inside the Hull half and finished under the posts. That’s what you would expect from, probably, the best backs in the league, powerful and silken running especially from their full back Lee Birch and a side who scored thirteen tries in their last game. But that was it for the Hull backs.

The visitors had the majority of possession throughout the game, I’m going to go for 70/30, and they ran at Kirkby all day but with all that ball their backs could produce only that one try since Kirkby closed them down and tackled them to a standstill in one of their grittiest performances of the season.

A Mike Fearon penalty from around forty five metres put Kirkby on the board at 3 – 7 with fifteen minutes played, Armistead resumed from the bench but this only made space for Craig Galbraith who limped off to be replaced by Will Brown. Hull’s second try came from forward pressure on the Kirkby line, the forwards rumbling over near the corner flag and the touchline conversion was slotted to make it 3 – 14 on the half hour.

As the half drew to a close with no further score Hull’s loose head prop Dominic Hardman was injured and unable to continue and although that wasn’t really significant at the time it became so later on. Significant for Kirkby was the emergence off the bench of the new face of Josh Sheridan into the back row, the Aussie’s first touch was to rip the ball off Hull and gain a Kirkby turnover. His second piece of the action was to be on the end of a blatantly high tackle but although the ref stopped play and penalised Hull the yellow card stayed in his pocket, Fearon’s kick at goal was just wide.

Kirkby made a hot start to the second half, under pressure Hull yielded a penalty but Fearon’s kick was again just wide and Kirkby didn’t profit from this ten minutes period in and around the visitors twenty two. Typically Hull played their way into game resorting to high balls and tactical kicking for field position and extended their lead with another try from their forwards, converted to make it 3 – 21 with seventeen second half minutes on the clock.

And the heavy Hull forwards were at it again five minutes later when a penalty gave them a lineout around ten metres from the line. Kirkby held a number of drives but the pressure eventually told and the visitors secured their bonus point fourth try, the fourth successful conversion from stand off Simon Humberstone extending their lead to 3 – 28.

Then comes the incident, following a scuffle Hull’s replacement prop wearing sixteen Michael Dias was given a straight red card by the ref Mr Elliot Lewis of the Northern Society. With Hardman injured and Dias off Hull couldn’t field a front row so called for uncontested scrums and the side opting for that would normally have a player leave the field. This was politely pointed out to the ref but he allowed Hull to play on with fourteen men, maybe something for the officials to chew on there.

And, supposition I know, but against thirteen and with twenty or so minutes to play could Kirkby have got within losing bonus point range, as it was neither side troubled the scorers again and it was 3 – 28 when the final whistle went.

Prior to this game Hull had scored 319 points in away games giving them an average of 32 so restricting them to 28 was an above average performance from Kirkby. Who were without four senior players in skipper Dave Barton (Tom Pickthall captain on the day), Scott Armstrong, Ben Walker and Gareth Gore who all played at Alnwick the previous Saturday.

It is tempting to mention names since there were some stand out performances from the Kirkby squad but to do so would be unjust to the rest in this uplifting and all round team performance. And on a final note, Hull now lead the table by a massive eighteen points with six games to play but we won’t really know how good they are until we see their performance when promoted to National 2 North next season.

1   Dan Thompson
2   Dan Armistead
3   Braden Schiller
4   Leandro Kwiczor
5   James Thompson
6   Craig Galbraith
7   Stuart Storey
8   James Barker
9   Harry Huddleston
10 Mike Fearon
11 Andrew Bargh
12 Tom Pickthall ( C )
13 Harry Ralston
14 Lewis Williams
15 Ryan Terry
16 Alex Briggs
17 Will Brown
18 Josh Sheridan