This was one of the most eagerly awaited fixtures of the season! The local derby with our closest rivals Stockport. The previous away fixture was lost to the weather so the season's Bragging Rights came down to a solitary Sunday Morning at Grove Park!
Manchester had a squad of 19 players this week, with a couple still unavailable, showing the real strength in depth of the team and the strong platform for next year.
Stockport brought 11 players so we agreed to play 8 a-side on the full pitch and make large substitutions between games.
In the first game it was agreed to field the squad that Will fly the Manchester flag at the forthcoming tour.
Manchester Team - Salty, Thunder, Frank, The Bull, Freddie H, Twig, Taylor and George.
Stockport won the toss and elected to start. The Stockport Team was filled with strong and confident runners, however, the now signature Manchester defence continued to be strong and Stockport found it very hard to breach. The Bull led the way, as an ex-Stockport player, he certainly had the bit between his teeth (or the ring through his nose!) with 2 tries, and strong tagging. Thunder also picked up a try showing great support play to back up and crash over the line. Further tries were scored by Frank and Taylor giving Manchester 5 tries all together. Stockport managed 2 tries in the first half, but continued resistance, pressurised defence and great tagging by Salty, Freddie H, Twig and George meant Stockport didn't cross the Manchester line in the second half, leaving Manchester 5-2 winners. Game 1 under the belt.
7 substitutions were made for Game 2. The Bull remained in the fray, and was joined by Lightning, Jayden, Ewan, Fearless, Will H, Bailey, Will K, a dream team in itself!!! Truly showing what srength the squad has.
Again Manchester started with purpose, and early tries from Lightning and Will K took Manchester into an early lead. Stockport fought back and levelled the scores, but Manhcester were in no mood to concede and forced a number of turnovers using the touch line as an extra defender. Further un-answered tries from The Bull, and Bailey gave Manchester a 4-2 win. Ewan led the defensive charge tagging bravely, but also finding space when attacking. Jayden played well on debut and showed great promise, with Will H and Fearless both playing their part in attack and defence.
5 further substitutions and Manchester fielded the following team, Taylor, Thunder, Lightning, George, Frank, Twig, Salty, Ewan. As the Stockport players began to flag Manchester turned up the heat in a shortened game. Tries were shared between Taylor, Thunder, Alex and Salty. Lightning, as in the other games, found lots of space and gave great field position for Manchester to capitalise. Manchester defence was as tight as ever keeping Stockport to just one try. Manchester eventual winners 4 -2.
So... 3 Games and 3 wins. Excellent running but even better defence. The Tigers do not seem to know when to give up when chasing down tags!! On many occassions the Stockport players looked lost for a way to go forward as the team players closed down the opposition! Great work. As the games were being played Evie, Connor, Noah and Hudson, along with the others not playing continued to work on their skills and basic understanding. We are looking forward to all players getting game time when we they become eligible, and we can field more teams.
A great result and the Tigers stay un-beaten!!! Well done all.