A Tale of Two Half’s (Pain in the Rain)
Penrith 2nd xv travelled down to Liverpool St Helens to begin their campaign in the Bateman Premier Division, an away game at the beginning of the season is never a an easy affair and this was no exception. Penriths preparations were hampered by a major incident on the M6 which resulted in travel delay and a diversion which meant a late arrival at the away club.
As always the players got their kit on and went straight into the match. In the first 15 minute it became evident that Liverpool St Helens (LSH) wanted a game and were taking no prisoners, the home team were clearly happy to put the ball through the hands and before Penrith knew it they were two scores down. Penrith regrouped and worked hard unfortunately the forwards were struggling to secure ball from the set pieces and not giving the backs the ball they required. Jake Edgar worked hard around the fringes however the home team were well organised and repelled these short forays. The rain started to fall heavily and the playing surface and the ball became greasy, Penrith added to their woes by missing a couple of tackles, the LSH scrum half turned the ball to the blind side and the Penrith defence become stretched which allowed the home team to run in another try. The home team were sensing a rout and pressed continuously however the whole Penrith team rallied and defended valiantly, before the half was up LSH managed to force two more scores to make the half time score 29-0
At this stage most observers were expecting the floodgates to open and LSH to rack up a big score, this was not to be, a couple of position shifts were made by Penrith and a rousing team talk woke the players up. The second half got underway and from the start it looked liked Penrith had finally got of the bus. The forwards began to create a stable platform for the backs and the partnership of Johnny Wills and Gave Cowe got the Penrith machine moving, LSH were on the back foot and on 58 minutes from the back of a ruck No 8 Craig Atkinson
assisted by Fullback Scott Harrison
, crashed over to get Penrith on the score-board. Penrith became more organised and the communication between forwards and backs began to work, Ball was being won frequently however at this stage the last pass was going amiss and a lot of the hard work was being undone. On 69 minutes Penrith made a change and the evergreen Steve Dixon
stepped on the field of play to replace the hard working Marc Armstrong
Penrith pressed into the LSH 22 metre line and the home team were immediately penalised for a ruck infringement. From the resulting penalty the ball was moved quickly to Dixon who barrelled his way over the line to score only having been on the pitch for less than 2 minutes. LSH sensed Penrith were on the charge and worked hard to suppress the continued assault in their half, they got their break and added to their score when Penrith got turned over in a maul and the LSH winger with support moved the ball wide for them to score a try in the far corner against the run of play. From the restart Penrith worked tirelessly and got back into the LSH half, Penrith were stringing moves together, a Big Red One was called enabling Matty Dillane
to slip deep inside and move the ball to Craig Atkinson
who was unfortunate not to get the pass slickly to Ben Littleton
on the wing to go over for a certain try. LSH had the final say in the game when they scored from the last play of the game, the conversion was good, the whistle went, final score 41-12 to LSH.
Whilst not the ideal start to the season Penrith should take heart from the second half of the game, there were a lot of positives to be taken into the next game. John Gardham tackled hard and is one to watch in the future, Lee Chapman
and Gav Cowe
led by example as vice captain and captain respectively. James Thornton
at hooker continues his rehabilitation and is getting fitter with every game. None of the team let their heads drop and should be commended for their fighting spirit.
Team manager Gerry Garvey
has inherited a team which looks completely different to the team that achieved promotion last season and is confident a lot better is to come, having only played one pre-season friendly and then a league game, the team was bound to be rusty. Garvey commented that with more faces at training and getting some continuity in the team he expects this team will achieve the results they are capable of.
Team; L Chapman, J Thornton, C Tyson, J Gardham. M Armstrong, M Dillane, M Hawkins, C Atkinson, J Edgar, J Wills
B Littleton, G Cowe (Capt) G Davis, K Adams, S Harrsion, S Dixon, G Garvey.