Bury Broncos 24 - Leyland Warriors 16
Thriller in the mud!
Leyland Warriors began their 2017 campaign in what was one of the few games played in the NWML due to the persistent rain which has affected pitches across the region all week. The Bury staff had worked hard all morning to get the game on, with the benefit of the considerable slope and while the pitch didn't make for a great spectacle, both sides will have benefitted from the run out.
The Warriors were playing up the hill in the first half and unsurprisingly, found the going tough, struggling to get out of their own half in possession but defending well to limit the Bronco's yardage. A Warriors error gifted the Broncos a full set inside their 10 and the hosts duly took a 6-0 lead.
Undaunted, Leyland stuck to their training with good line speed and control in the tackle to put in a superb defensive display led by Ash O'Rourke, despite almost the entire first half being played inside their half of the pitch. On a rare foray into the top half of the pitch an outrageous dummy saw skipper Dan Horridge burst through the line, step the fullback and dive over the line, with Dave Lonsdale converting, 6-6.
Some soft penalties from Leyland took the Broncos close the the Warriors' try line and they shifted the ball wide to squeeze in at the corner for a 10-6 half-time lead. Leyland were upbeat at the break, knowing that they had put in an excellent defensive effort in the first half.
As expected, after a tough forward battle at the start of the second half, the advantage of the slope began to work for the Warriors and they began to dominate both territory and possession, aided by excellent work from Danny MacGrath and Callum Brown. Leyland capitalised on this after a great kick from Horridge deep into the corner was fumbled and John Boles won the chase and did very well to finish the try, 10-10.
The Warriors continued to press but failed to capitalise on several gilt edged chances to take the lead before Sam Biggs crashed under the posts with three defenders in attendance and Lonsdale added the extras, 10-16.
The smart money would have been on Leyland to finish the job as they continued to control the game but again, they did not take the chances that they created and failed to add to their score. Soon the momentum began to shift as Leyland gave away some simple penalties, one of which saw the Broncos advance into a good position for the first time in the half and an uncharacteristic lapse saw their scrum half dummy his way under the posts, 16-16.
A further needless penalty, with Leyland in possession, gifted Bury two points, 18-16, going into the final moments of the game and again, the Warriors created two good chances but failed to execute. In a cruel twist, a short chip over from Bury, saw the ball hacked ahead, followed by some dribbling, saw them add a converted try right on the final whistle, 24-16.
A superb effort in defence for much of the game from Leyland, particularly pleasing to see the pre-season training being put into practice and without taking credit away from Bury, who showed great tenacity to stay in the game, much of Leyland's strife was self-inflicted. Plenty of positives for the Warriors to take away from this game and into their local derby against Chorley Panthers next week.
Team: Joe Ainscough, James Thompson, John Boles, Paul Lorenzen, Adam Bee, Dave Lonsdale, Dan Horridge, Tyler Gore, Si Wrigley, Danny McGrath, Callum Brown, Cory Bennie, Ash O'Rourke, Rob Lonsdale, Matt Adamson, Liam Deans, Sam Biggs.