Close to Call
Second half proves decisive
Moor travelled the short distance to Droylsden on Saturday to play Aldwinians, fielding a much-changed side due to a spate of injuries suffered in the previous game and a couple of non-availabilities. This fixture has traditionally produced close games and this match proved to be no different.
The early exchanges found the game stuck in midfield, with the home side looking the more dangerous, especially their back line who played with more urgency and continually threatened their visitors, but good defence by Moor kept them at bay. In contrast, Moor never looked as if they would threaten the Aldwinians line, although they marginally had the better of possession and position.
On the first real incursion into the Moor half, Aldwinians won a penalty, but the attempted kick at goal was missed. Both sides continued to nullify each other and it wasn’t until deep into the opening period before the scoreboard was troubled. This came from another Aldwinians attack and this time the Moor defence was breached as some poor tackling allowed the opposition centre to break clear and he sprinted in from the halfway to score a try between the uprights, making the conversion a formality.
Moor had the opportunity to put points on the board shortly afterwards with a penalty kick, but this drifted wide. It wasn't until the final minute of the half that Moor were successful with another penalty kick from the boot of fly-half and skipper Danny Child, but instead of then running the clock down having fielded the kick-off, the ball was kicked up field only to be caught on the full by the home side who preceded to run it back along their three-quarter line, ending up with their right winger being put away down the flank to score out wide, followed by an excellent conversion from the touchline.
This proved to be the last play of the half and with the score at 14-3 to their opposition, Moor now found themselves two scores down when, for most of the game, it had looked as if they would only have a narrow deficit to make up.
The break allowed coach Mark Edwards to ring the changes and he brought all four of his replacements on for the second half, partly due to injury to existing players and partly to try and revitalise Moor’s performance. This paid off immediately, as Moor noticeably went up a gear and within five minutes of the restart, had reduced the arrears.
This came from a lineout on the opposition 10-metre line and having won the ball, proceeded to drive their opposite numbers back some 80 metres to just short of the latter’s try line, where the ball was then recycled and lock Will Pacey was on hand to take the final pass and dive over for his second try in as many games, converted by Child. The home side immediately responded and it was now Moor’s turn to defend and were quite fortunate to not have a player sin-binned when a seemingly high tackle halted a dangerous move on the visitor’s line. Moor’s luck was further enhanced when shortly afterwards, an Aldwinians player was yellow-carded for a high tackle and the resultant penalty produced a lineout to Moor.
This was won and scrum-half Mike Ingham made a break down the blind side and fed replacement winger Jack Humpage who flew down his wing, avoiding the cover, to score an unconverted try out wide.
This put Moor in the lead for the first time in the match, a position which they then did not relinquish. Moor took full advantage of their numerical superiority with another converted try shortly before the hosts returned to a full compliment of players. This was orchestrated by another break from Ingham, this time in midfield and when he was stopped, offloaded to Child up in support, who in turn fed replacement flanker Sam Shepherd, who crossed for his first senior try.
With their tails now up, Moor continued to press and this resulted in an interception by the ever-present Ingham who took play up to just short of the Aldwinians line before being stopped. Moor then set up a series of mauls only to have one of them stopped unlawfully in front of the posts as the referee adjudged a defender to have put in an illegal tackle, earning him a yellow card.
The resultant penalty was kicked by Child to stretch the lead. Despite again being short of a player, the home side redoubled their efforts and it was now the visitor's turn to defend and ended up conceding a penalty just short of their line. This was taken quickly by Aldwinians and the ball was passed along the three-quarters, where their outside centre ran an excellent line to carve through the Moor defence to score a converted try. The last five minutes were played almost entirely in the Moor half as the opposition, now returned to a full squad, tried their utmost to wrench the lead back, but Moor withstood this pressure to run out 25-21 winners.
As suggested by the final score, this was a close game, redeemed by a much better second half display from Moor and they must be credited for never giving up, despite a very lack-lustre start to the game. Both Ingham and Shepherd were in contention for the MOM award, with the latter just shading it for his non-stop effort after coming on in the second half and making a noticeable difference to Moor’s revival in this period.
Next week, Moor play away at Liverpool St. Helens in the first round of the league cup competition associated with their division, k.o. 3.00pm