A warm welcome was given to our friends from Vale of Lune RUFC whom we have not seen at Underley Park for a number of years. 170 guests and supporters sat down to a hearty meal in the Marquee prior to the game giving an expectant atmosphere to this local derby match. Honours were even at Powderhouse Lane earlier in the season so the 400 plus spectators were looking for a result from their team.
Vale commenced this encounter and were soon on the attack but the home team repelled and the first 10 minutes saw the teams weighing up their opponents. A high tackle gave Vale a penalty within kicking distance and number 15 Damon Hall stepped up to give the visitors a 3 point lead. Kirkby restarted and attacked down the centre but were held by the Vale defence before play moved up field and the home side were on the defence. Again play moved down into the visitors half who conceded a penalty but the attempt to draw level crossed the face of the posts. Back came the visitors and were rewarded a penalty which Hall slotted to move the score to 0-6 with 20 minutes gone. Play ebbed and flowed with the penalty count rising against Kirkby but with no further score the half time whistle blew.
Kirkby kicked off the second half towards to town end looking to put points on the board but Vale retaliated and moved play into Kirkby’s half where it stayed until a ruck saw the ball come out to Walker who went to the blind side, a speculative kick bounced off the Vale winger, and Charlie Oates broke one tackle and dodging two more before he scored in the corner to give the home supporters something to cheer about. 5 minutes gone and the score 5-6. As play resumed Kirkby were penalised again for a high tackle giving Vale an attacking advantage. The following line out saw their tall second row retain the ball and his fellow forwards moved up field but the Kirkby defence held and a knock-on saw the ball back in home hands. From the scrum Walker passed to Lomas who took the ball up and fed Nikora who was supporting the swift hands down the back line fed Sam Nicholson, who handed over the last defende to place the ball in the corner for Kirkby’s second try. 15 minutes gone and the score board read 10-6. Back came Vale to reverse the score line but a knock on by the home side gave the ball to their opponents for a scrum. Before the ball went in the referees whistle blew and Kirkby’s number 3, Reid, saw the yellow card pointing at him. Only 10 yards from the home touch line the scrum was reformed with Bradshaw moving from the backs to number 8. As the ball was put in the referee was back on his whistle and Kirkby Captain Briggs saw yellow. Infringements were a mystery and not fully explained after the match. Now down to 13 players the Vale line out from the penalty saw their first try of the game as their forwards rumbled over. Despite it being only 10 yards in, Hall slotted the conversion to give the lead back to the visitors. 10-13 with 15 minutes to full time. Scrums went to uncontested but the 13 men of Kirkby held their own until 5 minutes later following a scrum, Vale moved the ball along their back line and the overlap saw full back Hall break through for the second try to Vale in the corner. ‘Golden Boot’ Hall converted and the Vale lead increased to 10 points. With 5 minutes to full time Kirkby were restored to 15 players and some good rugby drew a penalty in front of the Vale posts. Slotted by Walker the board read 13-20. Vale were to have the last say in this game as a further penalty gave Hall the opportunity to deny Kirkby a point. Uncharacteristically, he missed as the final whistle blew. 13-20. A typical local derby marred by the referees whistle as the penalty count rose.
Kirkby play down at Whitchurch next week and need a change of fortunes. The lads are playing good rugby but conceded penalties are knocking them back.