Four Seasons in 80 Minutes
Second- versus third-placed clash!
With the majority of matches called off in their division due to the wintry weather that had descended on the North West, Moor travelled to Aigburth on Saturday to play Liverpool Collegiate, in a second- versus third-placed clash, the outcome of which could well have a significant bearing on the promotion chances of either side come the end of the season. With both players and supporters judiciously avoiding the new Gateway Toll Bridge at Runcorn, it felt to some that Moor had already gained a advantage over their Merseyside rivals, but in truth, it was probably because most would not be able to adequately deal with the online payment system!
With bitterly cold rain already falling from the leadened skies, Collegiate kicked off down the slope and for the first few minutes, play was confined deep in their visitors’ half. It wasn’t long before Moor proceeded to work the ball out of their territory however, and a break by scrum-half Jack Wilson took play up to the host’s 22 and when halted, centre Chris Sutton was on hand to take a pass and he in turn offloaded to fellow-centre Chris Ogden-Smith to cross for a try, converted by full-back Ollie Reynolds. Slightly worrying for Moor though was that Ogden-Smith was injured in scoring and had to leave the field for treatment and didn’t return until after halftime. Moor continued to take the game to their opposition and playing with an urgency and intensity not so far seen this season, had Collegiate almost continually on the back foot.
Eventually this pressure paid off, when they were awarded a penalty, which was kicked to touch. From the resultant lineout, Moor produced one of their trademark catch and drives, ending up with a second try, this time by prop Sam Ireland, again converted by Reynolds. Moor now found themselves 14-0 up after less than a quarter of the match but thoroughly deserved given the way they had been playing. It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes of the half that the home side were able to get back into the game and during this period it was their turn to dominate proceedings. They reduced the deficit with a penalty kick and shortly before the break, scored a converted try, following a 5-metre scrum which was expertly transferred down their back line to their right winger, who dived over in the corner, to make the interval score 14-10 to Moor.
The visitors added their own penalty goal shortly after the restart, but play was then confined mainly to midfield for the next 20 minutes. On the occasions that each side did take control, they quite often lost the advantage through their own mistakes, but given the conditions, this was perhaps understandable, with Collegiate making fewer errors. These conditions had fluctuated between, rain, sleet, snow and bizarrely for one brief moment, sunshine, although paradoxically, it felt far colder at this time than when the wet stuff was falling – a veritable (cold) four seasons during the game.
Eventually, Moor re-gained the command that they had had in the first half, continually probing the Collegiate defences and producing a third try from another lineout, this time the scorer being No. 8 Tom Ireland; the conversion just failing as it hit an upright. Now with their tails up, Moor went in search of their bonus-point try and this came from MoM Wilson, when he made a break from the opposition’s 10-metre line, leaving a trail of despairing tacklers and chasers in his wake, to provide Reynolds with the simplest of conversions.
Moor hadn’t quite finished however, as on the brink of full-time they were awarded a penalty some 40 metres out and Reynolds chose to take the kick, which went sailing through the uprights, to make the final score 32-10. A good, all-round performance by Moor, especially in the first half which had laid the foundations for the victory and it was undoubtedly their best of the season with everyone playing their part from start to finish, including the replacements.
On Saturday Moor play their last league fixture of the year and the first of the return matches of the current season when they host Oswestry at Green Lane, k.o. 2:15 pm