“Let`s take it to um lad`s and show what the Panthers can do!”
These were the instructions left by Coach Frank McMullen
as the Panthers prepared to face Premier division leaders Ince Rose Bridge in round one of the Lancashire Cup.
Two divisions and fifteen teams separated the two sides today and few would have given Chorley any hope of competing against the top side in the age group. However the Panthers had a quiet determination about their pre-match routine this morning, appearing extremely focused and ready for the fray.
Those “in the know” had warned that the intensity that the Premier division outfit would be familiar with would prove to be the home sides downfall and that IRB`s aggressive style early on would see the Wigan outfit dominate the ruck area and hit the division 2 side with wave after wave of attack.
The opening whistle blew and a collective intake of breath was audible from the home support in anticipation of the onslaught from the red and black machine. The first few drives were determined; yes, but was it like nothing the Panthers had ever faced before? No. The Panthers have experienced some very tight encounters in division 2 this season and have been developing well throughout the year against some very stern competition.
With every tackle made the increase in the lads confidence was visible from the sidelines and the IRB attack was becoming more and more reserved. With ball in hand the Panthers were indeed “taking it to um” and the early exchanges were evenly played out with some text book defending from both sides.
The usual suspects were as reliable as ever in defence with Owen Farnworth
, Dominic Norris
, Jordan Eccles
and Connor Worden
all working tirelessly, but what was really encouraging was the defensive efforts from the likes of Michael Beardsworth
; well known for his attacking prowess but working extremely well from the marker position. Adam Turner
was another that was prepared to put his body on the line and Ollie Thompson pulled off a string of very important tackles in arguably his best performance wearing the black and white jersey.
Two moments of magic from IRB`s very fast number 4 were the only difference during the first half as the boys went into the break just 10 points behind.
The classy Rose Bridge centre then crossed again early in the second half when he caught a staggered Chorley defensive line to extend the lead to three scores.
The Panthers boys never deviated from the task in hand though and continued to press the visitors line. Half back Ciaran Johnson
outclassed his opposite number and was bossing the play up the middle of the park and George Carr
and Pat Gaffey continued to run great lines down the centre channels and restricting movement out wide from the visitors.
Chorleys speed kings Jack Thompson
, Hayden Baah
and Conner Twiname
utilised their considerable pace in both attack and defence, demonstrating clinical cover tackling on numerous occasions to keep the Wigan side at bay.
Hard working forwards Ben Evans
, Jack Jolly
and George Minton
were using their strength to great effect and making the hard yards all morning and it was powerful front row Ben Evans
that produced the loudest cheer of the day when he handed off several would be tacklers on his way to the line for a well deserved try. Chorley Panthers 6 – 16 Ince Rose Bridge.
The Panthers pressman had foolishly jotted down the headline “A Bridge Too Far” prior to the game this morning, fully expecting a rather one sided affair with Chorley simply unable to compete.
The Panthers pressman was wrong!
Not only did the lads compete, for much of the game Chorley were dominant with IRB`s number 4`s clinical finishing just being the deciding factor.
Boys you did your coaches proud today. You did your parents proud, you did all the teams in division 2 proud and you did the Chorley Panthers club proud! Well done.
IT`S CUP FINAL WEEK!!!