Heaton Moor (12) v (12) Altrincham Kersal
Last kick of the game snatches the victory from AK
This was the third fixture this season against a good Heaton Moor side. In the previous two encounters Kersal came from behind to secure the win. Kersal went into this fixture holding onto their 100% winning record, but without a game in four weeks there was going to be a bit of rustiness.
AK started the game well, with the lions share of possession and the play almost entirely in the Heaton Moor half, they should have made the most of the opportunity and put some points on the board early on. A combination of poor decision making,basic errors and some resolute Heaton Moor defending, kept the score at 0-0 for the first eight minutes. Kersal did eventually make the breakthrough. From a penalty 30m from the Moor line, Tom Gill kicked to touch, Ollie Joyce won the line out and the Kersal pack drove forward over the Moor line from 10m out. Tom Sullivan had the ball in his hands to drop down and put AK 0-5 ahead.
For the next 10 minutes Kersal looked like adding to the the score as they continued to control possession and play on the front foot, but they couldn't find a way through to capitalise. Shortly after the 20 minute mark Heaton Moor equalised. AK had a lineout 10 from their own line following a well placed Moor clearance. The home team stole the ball at the throw finding the space to score in the corner and level the game at 5-5. The remainder of the first half was played out with swings in territorial advantage, but neither team could add to their tally to take a lead into the break.
The opening 25 minutes of the second half were evenly balanced, Heaton Moor notably upping their tempo and looking to play more offensively. The teams were very evenly matched and neither could find a way through. On 60 minutes AK put together a series of plays which broke the deadlock. From a scrum 5m out Ali Merrill picked up the ball and passed to Sam Walsh who was brought to ground by the Moor defence, Tom Sullivan picked up the ball, saw a gap and made another three metres. AK were now only 2m from the line, Ollie Joyce tried to go through middle of the ruck, but was held up. Christian Jones then came in low, took the ball and wriggled along the deck to take AK to within a metre. Aaron Antrobus now looked to towards the inside and saw the opportunity to hit the base of the post. It looked like he was through, but the Moor defence pushed him back. Sam Walsh picked up the ball at the base of the ruck, went blindside, dropping his shoulder to open the gap he needed to score. Max Brookes slotted the conversion to give AK a 12-5 lead.
The final ten minutes were full of drama, the intensity from both teams ramping up. Heaton Moor went close to scoring in the right hand corner when a well placed grubber quick was cut out by Max Brookes and safely touched down over his own line. This was shortly followed by a well executed AK lineout near half way. Joyce once again took an excellent catch setting up the forwards for a powerful driving maul to within two metres of the Heaton Moor line. Sadly the ball dropped loose and the home team were awarded the scum for the knock on, from which it looked liked they were going to score a breakaway try only for the referee to bring play back for a forward pass. Confusion then arose, when the referee issued a red card to one of the Moor backs. AK thought it was a penalty and were ready to kick for goal, only for scrum to be signalled. Heaton Moor cleared their lines and pushed on into the opposition half. Kersal now cleared their lines with a good kick, but Moor came firing back with real determination, with only seconds left on the clock they wanted something out of the game. Their desire paid off and they scored wide on the right. The try made it 10-12, the last kick of the game would decide the score and it was mot in easy position. It was truck well, but just did not have the legs, the game was over, or was it? The referee adjudged that the Kersal players had charged too early and ordered the conversion to be retaken. The second kick was struck well again, this time with just that bit more power, the ball sailing over to earn Heaton Moor a draw.
The draw ends AK's 100% run, but leaves them unbeaten and still at the top of the table.