Trench Warfare at Melbourne Avenue
Hard Fought Battle In The Mud To Secure Back To Back Wins
The game kicked off with the opposition kicking to the home side. The kick did not go ten metres due to strong winds. This was a sign of things to come, signalling that a kicking game might not always be an option during the game.
From here the game became a bit of a stalemate as both teams knocked on wet ball and giving away silly penalties, not allowing for one side to get a foothold and push on.
After a period of being stuck in their own half, Fleetwood started making yards up the pitch, creating questions that Leigh's defence didn't have the answers for. After some continuous pick and goes hitting the guards, Leigh gave away a penalty on the 5m line. With this Leigh found themselves a man down and the sin bin gaining one.
'Fleet elected to take the quick tap penalty. Scrum Half O'Driscoll feinted the pass to fellow Nautical lad Rocks, to then throw it wide to No. 8 Reynolds who steam rolled through to score. Conversion scored by Jackson. 7-0.
Fleetwood used their one man advantage and worked their way back up the pitch and won a penalty. Mike Jackson did the honours again adding the three points. 10-0.
Leigh used this as a wake up call and caught Fleetwood napping. With their man back on the pitch, Leigh dragged Fleetwood from one side of the pitch to the other to score in the corner. Conversion scored. 10-7.
From this, 'Fleet decided to do some reshuffling and brought Keane McCann on fresh off his return from a back injury that kept him out the previous week. The Home side went to a more direct game, leaving Leigh with no clue how to defend the oncoming onslaught.
Manager Chris Travis' tactical gamble paid off when McCann managed to wrestle himself over the line to score. Conversion missed. 15-7.
Half Time: 15-7.
As the second half whistle sounded the flood lights were turned on and the heavens well and truly opened up, with the rain soon turning the pitch into a mud bath. This made handling pretty much impossible and the game devolved into a scrappy fight.
Frustration grew out of not being able to get out of their own half, leading to Fleetwood conceding multiple penalties, which came to a head when Callum Rocks retaliated to some foul play and was rewarded with a 10 minute breather in the bin. (Knowing Callum though, he probably just needed the rest!)
Leigh did as their opposition did in the first half and made good use of the one man advantage to score a converted try. 15-14.
This knocked Fleetwood out of their funk and they started making headway up the pitch with Leigh unable to deal with the constant exploitation of the forwards running at the guards. This led to a Fleetwood penalty. Jackson with the kick adding the points. 18-14.
Rocks came back on after his breather and led the charge up the field for Fleetwood trying to make amends and close the game out. Fleetwood were awarded another penalty with minutes left on the clock. Unfortunately, the wind took Jackson's kick agonizingly wide striking the post.
Fleetwood were relentless though trying to kill the game off by getting over the white line. The forwards all had their turn as did the backs when it was shipped out. The final whistle went after a knock on, on Leigh's try line.
Full Time: 18-14
Tries: Reynolds; McCann.
In the end Fleetwood battled against a tough Leigh side in atrocious conditions. The penalty count needs to come down and maybe more encouragement to attend training to improve on some key skills, including tackling by the legs.
Man of the Match
This was a hard one to call this week. Scrum Half O'Driscoll controlled his forwards well and managed to distribute the ball in horrendous conditions. Jamie Hearne and Harry Baker both made their tackles and made good yards. In the forwards, Lock Rocks always made hard yards with ball in hand.
The award this week though goes to Keane McCann, who came on and changed the way the team played and scored a crucial try just before the end of the first half.
The Weekly Sam Pook Report
Sam didn't play this week, citing that he doesn't like rain and mud. Line outs were better this week without him.
No game for the Second team. Next fixture is on the 5th January away at Tarleton.
The 3s are on the road next week against Orrell St James. If you would like to play please get in touch with Rob Mangan. There is a fun bus going down to watch as part of the Players' Christmas do next week. All seats may have already been secured, but please check with Steve Woodburn if you are interested.
Squad: 15. Baker; 14. Hearne; 13. Gornall; 12. Crompton; 11. Kirkbride; 10. Rothery; 9. O'Driscoll; 1. Wood; 2. Jackson; 3. Foden; 4. Gregson; 5. Rocks; 6. Jeffrey; 7. Hargreaves; 8. Reynolds; 16. McCann; 17. Heer.