Oldershaw 14-39 Didsbury Toc H
Toc H got their first bonus point win of the season after an underwhelming performance at Oldershaw.
Some well-executed late tries from Toc's backs put a gloss on the scoreline - but this was a game of missed opportunities, ill-discipline and unforced errors.
Toc know they will have to be much more accurate if they are to mix it with the better sides in this division - but a bonus point win on the road was a solid way to bounce back after last week's defeat at Liverpool Collegiate.
Credit must go to Oldershaw for remaining competitive for as long as they did. And credit must also go to their supporters and the club itself, which is one of the more welcoming that Toc have visited in the past few seasons.
Eighteen squad players were unavailable for various reasons - but the fact Toc still put out a strong team is a good indicator of the strength of the club’s playing base at the moment.
Nine of those who travelled are new to club this season and while teething problems remain with some of the combinations that are being tested, there is no doubting the quality of the players who have come in.
When it clicks - and it will - this will be a very strong side.
Number 8 Dan Walder and centre Ben Rothwell put in impressive performances and, as ever, captain Harry Rigby got through a mountain of work, but this was an ultimately poor display from a Toc side that has laid down such impressive standards over the past couple of seasons.
Much better is expected against Oswestry at home next weekend.
Another slow start, as was the case at Liverpool Collegiate last weekend, allowed Oldershaw to gain a foothold in the game and that set the tone for a large proportion of the match.
Toc were clearly the more mobile, skilful and dangerous side but unusually lacked the appetite to match the home team’s confrontational approach.
Oldershaw's direct pick-and-go style starved Toc of the ball for long periods. The frustration led to numerous penalties - more than 20 in the game against Toc - which also took time out of the match and led to long periods of interrupted play.
Toc struggled to get any momentum and build pressure. A strong wind did upset Toc's rhythm at the lineout - but there were no excuses for the number of dropped balls, inaccurate passes and lazy support in open play.
The visitors led 15-7 after what can only be described as a dreadful first half. Good tries for winger Joe Bulbeck and debutant full-back Seb Sheratte, who has signed from Macclesfield, were the stand out moments for the visitors.
Sheratte will be pivotal to this team's evolution, being able to operate comfortably at 10, 12 and 15. His second try of the afternoon was sublime, before a lack of match fitness saw him withdrawn ten minutes in the second half.
A number of other second half changes - including debuts for Luke Whitton, who has signed from Honiton in Devon, and Josh Vize, also a scrum-half, who has joined from Bath University, gave Toc a bit more direction and composure on the ball. Both look excellent additions to the club, and it now means up to nine players are vying for the 1st XV scrum-half spot.
The game opened up after the break and Toc showed glimpses of how destructive they can be in open play.
More poor discipline and a late interception kept the home side motivated - but in the last 15 minutes Toc’s backs, and Tom Makin in particular, ran riot.
Right-winger Makin ended the game with a hat-trick but could have had more. Another new player, abrasive scrum-half Jonny Mathews, cruised over for the try of the game, finishing off a flowing backs move. It was a rare moment of top quality from a team who struggled to hit their potential.
MOM: Harry Rigby
Next week Toc play their first home game of the new season at Ford Lane. Oswestry are the visitors – 3PM KO.