27 Mar Sandal 19 – 17 Kirkby Lonsdale
Slipshod at Sandal
A personal view by Cammie Hodgkinson
Kirkby travelled to Sandal with some optimism of a victory but after a promising start had to settle for a losing bonus point as their game developed into an error strewn performance with dropped balls knocks on and wayward passes. Tyran Fagan was back at prop after four weeks out with injury with Ross Towers in an unaccustomed first team position at two, the bench was entirely from the development squad.
Conditions were good as Kirkby kicked off playing left to right in front of the clubhouse and down the slight slope, which suggests the home side had won the toss and wanted that advantage in the second half. Fagan’s presence was immediately felt when Gareth Gore stole a Sandal lineout on their twenty two, the ball came Fagan’s way and he drove towards the line. He was eventually held but set up a ruck from which skipper Ben Walker picked up and scored, the kickable conversion was missed but Kirkby had the start they would have wanted and led 0 – 5 with only three minutes played.
A golden opportunity to extend that came five minutes later when Sandal went offside in front of their posts but somehow the penalty kick went wide. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the day because when Kirkby looked like scoring a second try they lost the ball near the line, Sandal picked up and went the length of the field to score in the left corner, their conversion attempt was also wide but the scores were level at 5 – 5 at the end of the first quarter.
In terms of territory and possession the game was pretty even but frustrating as Kirkby’s attempts were usually halted by an error and just such an event, a wayward pass, put Sandal in for their second try this time under the posts, the tap over conversion making it 12 – 5 and it stayed that way until half time.
Kirkby didn’t have to wait long for the first mistake in the second half which came when the normally super safe hands of Dave Maka dropped the Sandal kick off giving the home side possession with an attacking scrum. The Kirkby scrum was solid but Sandal had the ball and were able to put it through phases until they scored near the posts, another tap over conversion making it 19 – 5.
As the game went into the final quarter the ever more convincing James Fishwick came off the bench to replace Matt Hughes in the second row, Matthew Bargh went from wing to full back and Seb Moore took the wing. More significantly prop Dan Armistead moved to two with James Law coming into the front row at three, from that moment Kirkby looked more secure and perhaps the coaches held on to that front row switch a little too long.
At last Kirkby managed to maintain a move down their right which began to draw in defenders and when they put the ball down the line young guns Matthew Bargh and Harry Huddleston combined to put Huddleston in in the left corner. Tom Pickthall’s well struck conversion shaved the post but Kirkby had narrowed it to 19 – 10 with ten minutes to play against a visibly tiring Sandal.
It was still that score as the game went into time added on although the referee, Mr Jack Le Feuvre, had plenty of scope here because he’d blown the whistle at almost every scrum due to problems at the ‘set’. This had consumed some time and several added on minutes were played with Kirkby on the attack which resulted in a try behind the posts for number eight Alex Rogers, the conversion was drop kicked to make the final score 19 – 17 on the final whistle and the team went to listen to what Head Coach John Pickthall had to say about it all.
1 Tyran Fagan
2 Ross Towers
3 Dan Armistead
4 Gareth Gore
5 Matt Hughes
6 Dave Maka
7 Stuart Storey
8 Alex Rogers
9 Ben Walker
10 Dave Barton
11 Harry Huddleston
12 Tom Pickthall
13 Harry Ralston
14 Matthew Bargh
15 Agustin Cittadini
16 James Law
17 James Fishwick
18 Seb Moore