Manchester were playing thier first league fixture for several weeks as a result of postponements etc. and were hoping to reverse a series of poor results at Leigh over previous seasons.
The home side were unable to raise a full 15 a side and it was agreed to play 12 a side. Manchester had arrived with 19 players for the game although missing several experienced members of their squad.
The pitch was in good condition following weeks of very wet weather and the scene was set for a very open competitive game.
It was obvious from the kick off that the visitors were in a very uncompromising mood and intent on attack at every opportunity all over the pitch.
It was no surprise when the visitors opened up the Leigh defence and were unfortunate to be called back for a forward pass. Manchester had control of the set pieces (lineouts/scrums) and continued to pressurise the Leigh defence. It was inevitable that the strong home sides defence could only take so much pressure and the first try for the visitors was scored by Abby Wood
with a pick up and drive from the base of the scrum. This was followed by a brilliant break and try by Rachel Doughty
. Amanda Stafford
added a third try after out pacing the opposition on the wing. The final try of the first half was scored and converted by the impressive Hattie Gaunt
to make the halftime score 22-0 to Manchester.
In the second half the visitors began to exploit the space opening up around the pitch due to the reduced number of players on the pitch and the tiredness of the Leigh defence.
increased the first half score with a powerful surge and try through the home sides defence. Amanda Stafford
recorded her second try with another sprint around the wing defence of Leigh.
The home side were now being subjected to relentless pressure on their defence and it was no surprise when Vicky Calder increased the visitors lead with a try and conversion. Lucy Mercer
completed the scoring with an unconverted try to make the final score 44-0 to Manchester.
The second half, by agreement between the Referee and the respective coaches/captains had been reduce by several minutes following an injury to a Leigh player.
After their unexpected extended break from league matches and their poor previous record at Leigh, the performance by the whole Manchester squad was outstanding.
The front five in the pack generally receive very little recognition in despatches. The efforts/contributions made by Jen Reid
, Kate Bailey
, Marisa Simms-Crewe
, Steph Belcher and Lucy Mercer
in the match was immense.
The squads new recruits , Lyndsey Jackson
, Rachel Doughty
, Amanda Stafford
, Lianne Barclay
, Hattie Gaunt
and Vicky Calder, not forgetting our under 18 graduate Harriet Parsons
, were outstanding in defence and attack.
The Manchester team are now looking forward to their home league game against Northwich, when they Will
be strengthened by the return of their experienced players to an already impressive squad.