Fleet Spring forward
Despite missing some key players and having not tasted victory since January Fleet were hoping to show the visitors from Trafford that they had the ability to deal with them
A bright start from scrum half Gavin Rowell and the second row of James Lilley allowed Fleet to be on the front foot. However it was MV who struck first via a penalty making it 0-3. They then missed another penalty. After weathering this early pressure it was the centre pairing of Mike Kelly and Scott Richardson who took the game to Trafford, a lovely break in midfield by fly half Karl Bowling who hit the ball at pace on a smart angle completely wrong footed the defence. Bowling scampered through to touch down and score under the posts with extras added, 7-3 to the good. In this buoyant mood Fleet were straight back on the attack via the aggressive Kelly, and whilst down in the opponents 22 it was Bowling again who was on hand to squeeze past the defence to score, Rowell nudging the conversion to make it 14-3. During the next 15 minutes both sides were making useful breaks only to concede penalties or ball being spilled in contact. However, after a break by Richardson deep into the MV 22 a penalty was awarded, and whilst the defence were soaking up the afternoon sunshine, Canadian Rowell tapped the ball himself and squirmed under the sticks, converting his own try to make it 21-3. If the capacity crowd thought Trafford would sit back and take further punishment then they needed to think again, back came the visitors who managed to score in the corner, no extras added making it 21-8. Before the half came to a close Fleet went back on the attack, prop forward Scott Dobbie and hooker Devon Brown were both carrying the ball well. Eventually the returning wing Bobby Jones found the line at his mercy, his run cut short by an MV tap tackle but the impressive Kelly was in support to score under the posts with Rowell claiming the conversion to make it 28-8 at half time.
The opening few minutes of the second half witnessed both sides trading blows, as chances were not being taken until the free running Richardson made another break forward to set up a first try for wing Joe Kirton making it 33-8. Although MV were well behind score wise they came straight back at Fleet and spent a sustained period in the home half to bring it to 33-13. In fact Trafford kept the pressure on the green and gold contingent as they gifted them numerous penalties and had to defend well to keep MV at bay. This then deteriorated further for Fleet as Bowling was despatched to the sin bin after a deliberate knock on. Down to 14 men and MV increased further attacks, they did pull another try back making it 33-18. If any comeback was on the cards then that notion was soon extinguished when Trafford had a man yellow carded for a dangerous tackle. With Fleet being restored to the full 15 on the field it was them who went back on the attack, the hard working twin Jordan Brocklehurst broke forward before neatly offloaded to the eager prop Ricky Newton who crashed over the whitewash to bag a try, Rowell added the conversion to make it 40-18. Although MV attempted to come back and score Fleet stood firm and withstood the last few minutes of pressure.
This was a much needed victory as the team head into the break for Easter. For large parts of the game Fleet played with aggression and passion which allowed them to score quite freely. The stand out forward was second row James Lilley who was very useful with his driving runs. From the backs, Rowell starred well as did his half back partner Bowling. However, the back row combination playing in the centres it was the pairing of Kelly and Richardson who were on a par from a man of the match perspective. Fleet are back on the road in 2 weeks time, heading to high flying Aspatria.
Match report from Dan Jefferson