Manor gear up for Legends Day with a memorable away performance
ONLY the width of a post denied Manor Park a famous draw as they returned home from Ledbury with two points to show from their incredible efforts.
’ try at the death gave full-back Chris Morewood
a chance to level the scores at 31-31. Having nailed three previous conversions and a penalty already from challenging field positions – even from the touchline location it wasn’t out of the question the game would be tied.
It was cruel for Morewood as the ball bounced back off the upright, followed by the final whistle, but it was his unerring accuracy with the boot from seemingly all angles that put his side in a position to snatch a late draw.
Ross Road in Herefordshire hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Manor Park in recent years, with their last two visits ending in humbling defeats with 140 points conceded.
But captain Chris Goode
and his side made their longest trip of the season in buoyant mood having toppled then-league leaders Dunlop in their last outing a fortnight ago.
marked his return to the starting line up when he scored the game’s first try which came from a formidable rolling maul off the back of a line out. Up went the flags for Morewood’s conversion a minute later.
Ledbury levelled the match when a sublime chip over the defence was gathered but Morewood’s penalty gave his side a 10-7 lead.
While Manor Park were dominant in the pack, Ledbury were clinical in their backs division with back row players supporting frequently as they clinically claimed chances that came their way. From one swift counter-attack Ledbury regained the lead and a subsequent penalty strike saw the hosts take a 17-10 advantage.
Park levelled matters when Will Woodward
’s blind-side break ended with Adam Bennett
bundling over in the corner and Morewood smashed over the extras.
Ledbury took a 24-17 lead in at half-time with the last play of the half.
and Lewis Turton
entered proceedings in place of Matt Marston
and Bennett as coach Harrison Lakin injected fresh legs into his side.
Morris produced perhaps his best 40 minutes in a Manor Park shirt as he grew around some colossal performances from the likes of Goode, Gaz Hammond, Gary Hykin
and Lineker Lashley
– but all of the forwards were worthy of great credit come the final whistle.
made a key covering tackle early into the second half and with Ledbury reduced to 14 men, Park began to turn the screw up front. From a rolling maul, Matt Green
powered over for his third try of the season and Morewood’s conversion levelled matters at 24-24.
While Ledbury remained a threat out wide, the next score it seemed would be from the sheer bloody mindedness of Park’s pack.
Ballard thought he had in the left-hand corner, only for the referee to change his initial award of the try and go back for an advantage for an earlier offence.
On three occasions Park destroyed the Ledbury scrum yet the penalties – and dare I say it – the penalty try that seemed a certainty were not forthcoming.
Ledbury were working on scraps allied by some dogged try-line defence. After multiple phases at the death, Park moved the ball out wide for Reynolds to finish strongly in the face of covering defenders.
The agonising conversion miss wasn’t greeted by any great cheers from people of a Ledbury RFC persuasion as it perhaps denied the game it’s most deserving outcome; a draw.
But this game was played with great skill and within the spirit of rugby union, with Manor Park’s formidable pack being countered by Ledbury’s lethal finishing ability.
The challenges come thick and fast for the Manor Park boys as they face another top-six side, Woodrush, at the Griff and Coton on Saturday afternoon, coinciding with the club’s legends day for former players. All are welcome to attend.