09 Feb Lymm 17-31 Kirkby Lonsdale
In Lymmbo-nus land
A personal view by Cammie Hodgkinson
Fine and dry at Lymm’s Crouchley Lane ground where the faithful enjoyed a convivial pre match lunch in great Lymm company. However, the game had to start sometime and a disruptively strong wind was blowing across the ground as Kirkby kicked off down the slight slope which suggests to this scribe that Lymm won the toss and wanted that advantage in the second half. Mercifully, the wind dropped early on and conditions remained good for the match on a firm dry surface.
Skipper Dave Barton was back at twelve and Ben Walker at nine, Alex Briggs was drafted into the front row with James Law front row cover on the bench in a game where pack stability was perceived to be a key issue on the day and Kirkby achieved that.
Kirkby applied the early pressure until a penalty gave Lymm a chance to clear but their respite didn’t last long. Kirkby were soon back on the attack and were awarded a penalty just inside the home twenty two from which the quick thinking skipper Dave Barton saw a gap, took a tap and go and forced his way over for the opening try. Stand off Mike Fearon’s conversion was good and Kirkby led 0 – 7 after eight minutes play.
Lymm hit back with pressure near the Kirkby line and in defence prop Braden Schiller picked up a yellow although he wasn’t sure why. There were to be four ‘technical’ yellow cards in the match, two to each side when, perhaps, a cautionary word from the referee Mr Tom Doig might have sufficed and allowed play to flow. Lymm kicked the penalty to make it 3 – 7 but were unable to profit further during their man advantage.
Restored to fifteen Kirkby continued to have the edge, a backs move inside the Lymm half gave right wing Harry Ralston a little space and he was away with support runners either side. Lymm seemed unsure who to cover and a couple of teasing dummy passes and side steps enabled Ralston to score a fine individual try by the corner flag, Fearon again on target with the kick to extend Kirkby’s lead to 3 – 14 as the half hour came up.
A rare high ball error saw Kirkby fumble Lymm’s restart kick. They drilled the ball into touch deep in the Kirkby half and drove from their lineout where, in defence, it was Stu Storey’s turn to get the wrong side of the ref and another bemused player trotted to the dug out.
This time Lymm didn’t waste the man advantage, their forwards got a roll going at the Kirkby line and they were able to cross for their first try by the posts. The conversion was a formality closing the gap to 10 – 14, the half drew to a close at that score and the final result was back in the balance.
Having closed to four points and playing down the slope in the second half Lymm would have fancied their chances. In a well rehearsed restart they put their kick deep into the Kirkby twenty two near their right touchline and poured down the slope after it. It was backs to the wall for Kirkby for the first five minutes but although Lymm created chances the Kirkby defence held, Lymm didn’t score during that period and perhaps this was a pivotal point in the match.
Working their way up field Kirkby got back into the game, prop Dan Armistead went close but Kirkby kept the pressure on with a penalty to the corner and a catch and drive over which was deemed held up. It was now Lymm’s backs to the wall with a Kirkby five metre scrum and in defence the Lymm number six was yellow carded. Kirkby pressured the line and blind side flanker Josh Sheridan scored a debut try when he galloped over a ruck to touch down, Fearon kicking the conversion to take Kirkby out to 10 – 21 with ten second half minutes played.
A Fearon penalty as the game went into the last quarter extended this to 10 – 24 but in a game Lymm needed to win they weren’t lying down. Their cause wasn’t helped when their loose head prop was yellow carded with fifteen minutes to play but to their credit their fourteen men did manage a converted try to close the gap to 17 – 24 and they were back in one score range with ten minutes on the clock.
Kirkby’s response was to bring Scott Armstrong off the bench. Fearon put in a penetrating run up centre field which took play to the home twenty two where the ball was recycled and driven on and although Lymm defended desperately they couldn’t stop Armstrong scooping up a loose ball to score the bonus point fourth try. The immaculate Fearon hadn’t missed a kick all day and he made no mistake with this one to make the final score 17 – 31.
Josh (Shero) Sheridan had come off the bench in the previous game against Hull but this was his first ‘start’ in this key away game. An abrasive (what else) flanker newly arrived in Kirkby Lonsdale by way of Sydney University and, for his try and all round energetic performance, he picked up the Kirkby Man of the Match award in the Lymm clubhouse.
This away five pointer takes Kirkby beyond forty league points and, in all probability, secures league status in the Northern Premiership for next season with seven games to play. For Lymm, having played nine consecutive seasons at this level, mostly in top five contention, they now hover four points clear of the relegation zone but Lymm is a great place to visit and a widely held hope is that this genial rugby club can find the couple of wins they need to stay above the drop zone.
1 Alex Briggs
2 Dan Armistead
3 Braden Schiller
4 Craig Galbraith
5 James Thompson
6 Josh Sheridan
7 Stuart Storey
8 James Barker
9 Ben Walker
10 Mike Fearon
11 Harry Huddleston
12 Dave Barton ( C )
13 Tom Pickthall
14 Harry Ralston
15 Ryan Terry
16 James Law
17 Will Brown
18 Scott Armstrong