New league, old opponents
Moor kicked-off their league programme in the new ADM Lancashire Premier Division
Moor kicked-off their league programme in the new ADM Lancashire Premier Division with a game against Oldham, a side they last played some five seasons ago. Since then, the sides have played in different divisions, but with the formation of Lancashire-only leagues this season, they now find themselves once again pitted against each other.
Continuing the trend from last season and highlighting the success in recent years of their junior section, Moor’s squad was made up of a significant number of under-19s, six in all, four of whom were making their league debut.
The game was played in an almost constant heavy drizzle, making the ball and conditions underfoot somewhat slippery, which produced numerous unforced errors by both sides throughout the game. It was Moor, however, who made the best of the circumstances, and they took the lead within within minutes. This came from one of their textbook catch and drives from a lineout, following a penalty kick to the touchline and No. 8 Ben Jones made no mistake from the back of the rolling maul to touch down, followed by an excellent conversion from wide out by fly-half and skipper, Danny Child.
Oldham were not to be denied for too long, as Moor knocked-on whilst receiving the kick-off and this gifted the home side an attacking position and after a number of 'pick and go’ moves, their fly-half adeptly chipped over the advancing defence, for their right-winger, Danny Hill, another youngster making his senior debut, to pick up the bounce and race in to score in the corner and with this being converted, both sides were back on level terms after less than 10 minutes having been played.
From then on until the break, the game was mostly played in the Oldham half of the field, with Moor also having the majority of possession, but time and again, errors prevented them capitalising on this advantage.
Fortunately, the opposition did not fare much better and together with solid defence from their visitors, were unable to prove too much of a threat. Typical of Moor’s woes was another drive from a lineout, similar to the one that had produced their try, but in their eagerness to score, the ball was somehow knocked-on. Credit should also be given to the home side's defence in frustrating their visitor’s play as time and again, both Moor’s forwards and backs could find no way through.
With only five minutes remaining in the first half, Oldham made only their second incursion into the Moor ’22, and found themselves camped on the latter’s try line, but again another knock-on turned the ball over. Moor however, lost the resultant scrum and the home side’s No. 8, Tom Hannon, picked up the ball to dart over for a try, very much against the run of play.
Even then, Moor had one last chance to add to their score, but the final pass went to ground, following a break by debutant Sam Dolling that took play up to a few metres short of the try-line. This proved to be the last act of the half with Oldham leading 12-7.
For a short while after the re-start, Moor continued to have the edge but could not breach a solid defence and even had drives held up on their opponent’s line on a couple of occasions. Slowly, Oldham began to come into the game and now it was their turn to have Moor on the back-foot. Whilst their backs had always shown more urgency than their counterparts, errors and solid defence from Moor prevented them from gaining any advantage and play was confined between the respective 10-metre lines for long periods.
On the half-hour mark, Moor again found themselves with an attacking lineout from a penalty kick and made no mistake this time with the resultant drive, as Jones again scored to level the match; the resultant conversion by Child agonisingly bouncing the wrong way off the upright.
A penalty kick by Oldham shortly afterwards was fortunately missed and they then did themselves no favours on the stroke of full-time by having a man sin-binned. The resultant penalty kick by Child took play within 20 metres of the opposition’s line and following the lineout another penalty was awarded. This provided Moor with the opportunity of winning the game in injury time from a kick, but this proved to be just wide and the game ended 12-12.
Moor should probably have won the game given that they had the majority of possession and position, especially in the first half, but on reflection it was perhaps a fair result as both sides were unable to prove decisive when in attack and also defended well. Moor did excel in the lineout department, with both Dolling and fellow-lock James Ellis to the fore and as it was the first game of a new season, players were bound to be unused to new pairings and to be a bit rusty.
Next week, Moor entertain Widnes at Green Lane, k.o. 3:00 p.m.