Trafford MV 2XV visited Rossendale 2XV the outcome of which could decide who gets relegated and who stays in Division 1. Keen not to make the same mistake as last week Trafford reached the typically windy but unusually sunny ground with plenty of time, our extended warm up paid off as our mobile pack managed to stop the attacking Rossendale play and present the opportunity for Heathcote to steal the ball with come good counter rucking. Traffords first attacking opportunity saw Johnston break a couple of tackles on the half ways line and dash in for a try under the posts, Sadler slotted it over 0-7.
Collecting the ball cleanly from the kick off MV kept their attacking style alive with some excellent ball in hand play, keeping it tight round the edges and sucking in the defence to make some good ground a change of direction saw our prop/ winger Joe Gray
drag 3 players from just inside the opposition 22 to score and Sadler converted to put us 0-14 ahead.
Having the slope and wind to our advantage gave resident Stand-off Jonny Sadler ample opportunity to pin the opposition inside their half and once again some counter rucking from Heathcote stifled the increasing Rossendale counter attack. A quick dart inside from scrum half Hope and good follow up play from the pack allowed Trafford to ship the ball wide to outside centre/ flanker Ewan Burns who needed 3 Rossendale players to stop him but not before he managed the offload to winger/flanker Pete Broadbent
who ran the try in to put MV 0-19 up with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Trafford must have thought they had the game in the bag and took their foot off the gas, and fumbled the ball at the restart allowing Rossendale to put together some good play and from a lineout inside the Trafford 22 saw a change from the usual Rossendale catch and drive tactics to running three dummy lines on the fringes and score putting their first points on the board 7-19.
Keeping with the back and forth play which would continue throughout the rest of the match Trafford then saw an extended period of play inside the Rossendale 22 and a penalty saw Sadler slot 3 extra points 7-22 only for Rossendale to run a try in due to some poor defensive work at the death. Score at half time 14-22.
Rossendale realising that they now held the advantage of the considerable slope and wind came out all guns blazing, miscommunication from the restart saw them get right back in the game with a quick try 21-22.
The threat of the game being snatched away from us Trafford redoubled their efforts and heavy tackles from Whiteley, Heathcote and Ranson stopped the Rossendale attacking play resulting in a lineout for our efforts outside the opposition 22. A clean collection from the throw in saw opportunist scrum half Hope cut like “a knife through hot butter”-(Moose) after selling the dummy and scoring, giving MV some breathing room 21-29.
The back and forth antics continued with Traffords defence holding solid despite being camped on our 5 metre line on a number of occasions saw a protracted period without a score until Rossendale scored and put them back in the game 26-29. Not to be outdone a weary Trafford side capitalised from a knock on from Rossendale to set up some excellent attacking momentum putting their opposition on the back foot, keeping the ball tight our pack managed to repeatedly break the gain line and recycle the ball quickly allowing Johnston to score his second try of the day, a typical crash ball, this time on the blind side thanks to a well timed pass from Hope. 26-34.
Realising that the next score would seal the match MV kept their defence solid under considerable opposition pressure and thanks to some good return play from full back Moore and the pack keeping up with the fast pace of the game MV saw themselves 15 metres out with a scrum which allowed Nyhoda to pick up and storm over to put MV 13 points ahead with 5 minutes to go. With the team absolutely shattered we found ourselves providing some excellent defensive tackling on our try line but a well worked back line from Rossendale saw their fullback skip through an exhausted MV pack to score 39-33 and give Trafford a very nervous 2 minutes until the referee blew for full time!
Excellent work by every player with a number of people playing out of position. Man of the match goes to Flanker Adam Heathcote
(twice now in 3 matches). Next week sees us take on top of the table Wilmslow at their ground as we look to repeat the beginning of the season performance and beat them to put us clear of relegation!