First half speed and precision too much for a plucky Warrington.
In fine conditions and facing a moderate breeze Manchester received the kick off from Warrington and were immediately under pressure. Setting the scene for most of the game Warrington opted to keep the ball tight and launched close range attack after close range attack, crossing the line twice they were held up by the stout Manchester defence. Having withstood the onslaught Manchester eventually turned over the ball and with their first piece of possession moved the ball wide. Excellent inter-play between the forwards and backs saw them progress through several phase up field for Ollie Dickenson to score a typically determined try in the corner (0-5).
The resultant restart was handled with more confidence and the match settled into a pattern of the Warrington pack bludgeoning forward until turned over and the running style of Manchester recovering any lost territory. One such Manchester incursion found Lewis Braddock with the angle on his opposite number mid-field and near halfway. Showing typical pace he sprinted through the gap to streak away from the cover and score under the posts with Louis Jones adding the extra points (0-12). After excellent approach work Ben Hughes made the most of some lack lustre Warrington tackling and sprinting to within 10 meters of the Warrington line before being hauled down. Following in support Liam Bird showed great determination and balance to ride several tackles and score near the post. Louis Jones again adding the extra points (0-19). At this point it was pretty obvious to all watching that the hands, running lines and support play of the Manchester team was the means to unlocking the Warrington defence. A point emphasised when just before half-time Manchester again moved the ball left, right, left and right again to find ned barlow on the over-lap to finish the move with a try in the corner (0-24).
With the wind behind them, the sun in the opposition’s eyes and a comfortable margin one might have expected Manchester to run away with the match – but Warrington saw it different. In many respects the second half was like the first – but the critical difference was that Manchester thought they could score with every piece of possession rather then manipulating position and executing overlaps. Wayward passing and over-exuberance played into the hands of Warrington who to their credit showed both spirit and character in driving at Manchester. With some strong forward surges and backs weaving through the Manchester defence Warrington were unlucky to score just one try (24-5) and on balance probably deserved to win the 2nd half. But for them it was a case of too little too late as Manchester never looked likely to surrender their first half lead.
The foundation of Manchester’s win was laid in the first half with a strong team performance and some excellent execution. Congratulation to all the boys for their hard work and, with 1/3rd of the squad away on various school trips, a special mention must go to the boys (Conor, Jake, Callum, Liam, Ben) who played out of position and still delivered first-class performances.