Line Dancing for Beginners
Late comeback failed to deliver an epic ending for the Sefton faithful.
Much as I wanted to go and watch the third team be sacrificial lambs at Ruskin Park, I considered it pointless (no pun intended). After all, I’d already read Campo’s match report, which was written the week before in anticipation of the result. Besides, after tales of glory last week, I wanted to watch a team with finesse and flare. I was expecting great things, especially when I spent three pounds on the entrance fee. This must be quality rugby.
It seemed half the spectators weren’t prepared for the extreme weather conditions that consumed Leigh this weekend. One minute basking in sunshine, the next battling with hurricane Irma.
The first twenty minutes were a stalemate, with no side really dominating. Leigh opting to attack through the backs, trying to break the line of defence, whilst Sefton chose to kick over the top into space, for the wingers to chase. Sefton’s tactics would have worked if they’d achieved any sort of dominance in the lineout’s, but for some reason it wasn’t working for them. Leigh’s lineout’s were just as bad, but despite all Sefton’s movement in the line, they failed to disrupt it enough.
The worry for Sefton was that although they had a very strong pack, it was rather lacking in pace. A pack of slow, marauding sauropod’s is fine, but you still need a couple of velociraptors’ to mix it up a little. At least when Simon Buckle got tired, they could bring on Steve Alcock!
The break came in the twentieth minute with Leigh having a scrum mid-field. Their scrum-half went way-out blind with Sefton’s back row too slow to react, allowing Leigh to slip through between the floundering forwards and the winger, to go over for a converted try.
Sefton did claw some points back however, five minutes later when they were awarded a penalty central, twenty metres out. John Fenton kicks the ball through the posts to secure their first points. A shabby first quarter, but maybe Sefton were starting to click.
Unfortunately that was short lived. Sefton pressed well, preventing Leigh from getting any clear cut chances in the backs, and with the ball very slippery, a number of dropped balls appeared. At one point slipping through a number of the opposition’s hands. The ball however was not secured on the ground, and a wild hack took the ball forward and though Sefton’s defence. The Leigh player used his football skills to guide the ball over the line, and then dived on it for a converted try.
Another penalty wide out on the left presented Sefton with an opportunity to close the gap. They opted for the three points, rather than going for the corner, a decision that was probably justified considering their lineout’s weren’t going to plan, with the Bush Fighter and Jay Keegan bickering like an old couple when it went astray. This time though Fenton failed to hit the mark.
The second half began with another barrage of rain, possibly hurricane Jose coming close behind. The touch line was a mess of out-turned umbrellas, and spectators huddled under trees, but the game continued, unaware of the chaos on the touch line.
A few attempts by Sefton’s backs were a little lack lustre and pedestrian. One passage of play went through the backs hands before being thrown out of touch. Sefton proceeded to give away a number of penalties, and were pushed back to within ten metres of their line. Initially they did well to escape, but at a number of the scrums they kept getting penalised for turning the scrum. It seemed as if Sefton were just too strong for Leigh’s pack, but the ref didn’t see it that way, and consequently kept penalising them. Leigh, grateful for this, just handed the ball to their kicker who punished Sefton with two consecutive penalty kicks.
In the last ten minutes, Sefton finally came to the game. Another lineout by Leigh was overthrown, and Craig Johnson catches the ball at the back. Fast hands takes the ball out to Jonathan James who kicks it deep into Leigh’s right corner. The Leigh lineout results in one of their players being sin binned for a high tackle, and Sefton kick for the corner. Another botched lineout by Sefton, but this time Tom Mantova was first to the ball. Stumbling through, he initially falls short of the line, intentionally or not, I’m not sure, (probably fell over his air guitar), however he picks himself up and dives over the line for an unconverted try.
Tails up, and a hint that Leigh were getting tired, Sefton sustained the pressure. A break down the left nearly resulted in Alex Evans going over, but he was held up over the line. At the subsequent scrum the ball was taken forward again by Evans, and from the breakdown Wayne Osborne picks the perfect line back inside to score under the posts. John Fenton converts the kick.
In the last five minutes, trailing by five points, Sefton see a hint of a chance to clinch the game. However, Sefton gave away a number of penalties and found themselves stuck in their half. To Leigh’s credit when a kicking opportunity came, they kicked for a lineout rather than going for the three points, and an eight point advantage. The line was set, all last week’s defensive lineout training was going to come good. Leigh throw to their front jumper, who turns and goes through unimpeded over the try line, leaving Sefton scratching their heads
A brave fight back at the end, but you can’t give 100% for last ten minutes and expect to win. Perhaps they need to rethink their lineout defence, sometimes simple is best. A lot of squabbling and finger pointing in the game, but sometimes you have to hold your hands up, and say you didn’t do your best. Who played well? Jonathan James was solid in defence, Wayne Osborne kicked Sefton into some good positions, and Alex Evans was busy around the park, other than that, maybe we should forget this one, I already have.
Next week Sefton play Bowdon at home, free to watch and shelter if it rains, off now to buy Arthur Stewart a brolly, doing my bit to help the aged.