Winnington Park R.F.C.

Winnington Park R.F.C.

Mixed results in the Congleton mudbath!

by Ben Gregory

An excellent turn-out by Winnington Park allows us to field two teams of 8-a-side in challenging weather conditions and energy-sapping terrain.

Match 1: WPRFC U9’s “Blues” 3-2 Congleton “Blacks”

WPRFC: Alastair, Archie, Callum, Aidan, Jamie, Alex, Ben, Cameron, Dan, James

WP lose possession allowing Congleton to score from a scrum after missed tackles. A good run from Alastair slices through the home defence and a good off-load to Callum allows him to score in the corner after good hands. Possession changes hands with neither team able to dominate as solid defence from both sides snuffs out chances. Dan is forced into touch on another of his trademark surges while James nails his man and Alex and Dan both make try-saving tackles to deny Congleton twice. The home team spread the ball out wide where cover is thin to score after sucking in the visitors. Alex replies after a good driving run from Cameron. Alastair is penalised after retaliating to a high tackle. Both teams continue to defend resolutely and at half-time it’s 2-2. The second half starts in a positive fashion. A great run from James is supplemented by excellent recycling and great scrum half play from Aidan who is able to keep his backs supplied but to no avail. Congleton then come back but are frustrated by some hard tackling from all in blue shirts which allow the loose ball to be picked up, rucked, recycled and finally Alastait crosses the line for a fantastic try that all should take credit for. More solid tackles force the ball free for Alex to burst through but he is forced into touch. James is tackling like a demon to thwart the home team. WP are harshly penalised for a hands-free hand-off. A final excellent move at the death is held up but WP run out as well-deserved winners.

Match 2: WPRFC U9’s “Whites” – Congleton “Reds”

WPRFC: Elliot, Louis, Scott, Joe, John, Lewis G, Owain, Ollie, Lewis M

Congleton commence the game with a straight forward pass to the nearest man on the left who takes the ball well and immediately runs forward through a sleeping Winnington line to score a very easy try in the 1st few seconds of the game - 1-0 to Congleton. On the restart, Winnington attempt to do the same but are stopped just short of the Congleton line. Good play by Park follows with several recycles taking the game to Congleton in a more forceful manor. Keeping the ball moving, Winnington finally break down Congleton and gain a try Louis Kent makes it 1 -1. Congleton take the restart and attempt to reproduce their earlier starting and push directly for the try line. However this time our lads are awake and defuse the situation by forcing the home team into touch. Taking the line-out Winnington immediately see the gap and Louis Kent immediately strives to place the ball down for his second try. 2-1 Winnington. Congleton take the re-start and again push directly for the try, Winnington hold out for a good period but Congleton have some really good play and force Winnington back and back until finally breaking down the Park to make it 2-2. This time it is Winnington who start with a push through the centre. Ollie Lockwood has the ball and bulldozes his way to the line to score a great single effort – 3-2 to the Park. The restart by Congleton is demanding both teams to work hard on a very muddy pitch. Pushing forward, Congleton lose the ball and give Winnington a scrum. From this Joe Baker fields the ball to Lewis Gibson who runs from his own 22 yd line to score – 4-2 WP. Another re-start by the home team leads to another simple try for them as the half time whistle blows – Congleton 3 – 4 WPRFC. The second half starts with Winnington who undertake lots of passing in the centre of the pitch until they give the ball away with a Knock-on. However, not to be pushed into mistakes in the 1st half, Winnington keep the pressure on the home team until they finally make an error and Winnington have the scrum. Joe Baker is seen to nod to Lewis Murray who nods back, the ball comes into play and a switch pass from the scrum half sees the ball to Lewis Murray who runs a good half of the pitch to put the ball down by the corner flag 5 – 3 to Winnington.

Congleton restart the game and they are not going to let each other down and immediately challenge to Winnington defence until they finally break down and allow the home team to grab a score back. 5-4 to Winnington. Winnington restart but poor handling gives the ball to Congleton who punish the visitors with a quick try – 5-5. It is all square as Winnington take the restart, some hard rugby takes place in the centre of the pitch with both sides fighting for the win Scott Watson and Ollie Lockwood work hard to stop any mauls breaking through. Each team pushes hard and then makes handling errors. This is repeated several times over until Lewis Gibson makes another dash for the line – 5-5 to the Park.Congleton are not to be deterred, they push hard working together well as they try to capture another try and balance the score. The control of the ball is swapped from each team until Winnington are given the scrum. Joe Baker again nods to Lewis Murray as he puts his gum shield in position. The ball comes out of the scrum for Joe to deliver a pass to Lewis M by the touch line and he wastes no time to reach full speed and place the ball down to make it 7-5 to Winnington and the game ends Congleton 5 – 7 WPRFC.

Match 3: WPRFC U9’s “Blues” 4-7 Congleton “Reds”

WPRFC: Alastair, Archie, Callum, Aidan, Jamie, Alex, Ben, Cameron, Dan, James

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Weather conditions deteriorating as the rain gathers momentum. The home team start but lapses of concentration and missed tackles allow Congleton to steam through the middle to score. Alex breaks out and passes to Ben who is forced into touch. A series of good tackles force the ball loose which Alastair picks up and after some good recycling allows James through to even the score. Solid defence holds Congleton at bay until a missed tackle allows Congleton to score. On the restart the ball is given to Alastair who charges straight through the home defence to score, celebrating in Chris Ashton style with a flying leap under the imaginary posts which earns him a stern talking-to from the referee. WP really giving their all but a missed tackle allows Congleton through to score their third. Archie, on a great run straight from the line-out, off-loads to Cameron in support who is forced into touch just short of the line. 3-2 at half time. A thumping tackle from Alastair forces turnover from which a solid scrum gives Aiden, having an excellent game at scrum half, the chance to feed Alex who bursts through to score. Good tackling forces another turnover from which Dan goes on a seering run down the line but is forced into touch. Despite solid tackling Congleton are able to ship the ball out wide where the cover is thin and they score. Alastair is again penalised by the ref with another dubious decision which allows Congleton to run through to score again. Dan rips the ball clear and goes on another run down the line but is clattered into touch once again. More excellent tackling forces the ball loose which Alastair picks up and off-loads to Alex to score. Good hands create room for Congleton to score in the corner. New boy Jamie passes like an old pro to Callum who tears off down the line, only to be forced into touch just short. Alex scores again to narrow the gap after more hard tackles from the excellent James knocks the ball loose. A poor line-out creates loose ball for Congleton which they exploit to the full to increase their lead at the final whistle. Some excellent rugby from WP deserved better than a 3–try loss.

Match 4: WPRFC U9’s “Whites” – Congleton “Blacks”

WPRFC: Elliot, Louis, Scott, Joe, John, Lewis G, Owain, Ollie, Lewis M

The Whites are not so White now as they start their next game more of a “Brown” colour. The colour change brought by the pitch seems to have a damaging affect to their concentration as the immediately play a knock-on and give the impetus to Congleton who go route 1 to score and start the game in magnificent fashion for them and their supporters 1 – 0 to Congleton.The immediate re-start sees Elliot Simcock take the ball to Congleton in the centre of the pitch. Crowded now by players from both sides Elliot struggling to make headway, but then is team mates all push together and keep him moving towards the try line. Congleton defend their line well until they finally lose the battle and Winnington score 1-1. After that tremendous effort to pull the match back to a level score, the Park lads are put under similar pressure with a similar play from the home team. The momentum goes against the Park and Congleton take the lead once more 2-1 Congleton. Not to be deterred Park re-start the game and the centre of the pitch is occupied for a long time with both teams trying to gain ground, making errors and then defending just as hard as the attacked. Lewis Murray takes a hard tackle and comes off the worst for his efforts. However, he is only down for a minute when he gets to his feet and gives another momentous tackle – no fear shown again and again as the Home team keep coming at the visitors. Unfortunately for Park, Congleton finally get to the score line - 2-1 Congleton.Winnington take the re-start and sadly give the ball away too easily and allow Congleton to score another try after a dash down the line – 3-1 Congleton. Park heads drop as Congleton punish the visitors for another handling error and this ends the half Congleton 4 WP 1. After a team talk at half time, Winnington Park realise they have a lot of work to do to capture the game. Congleton take the re-start and take the game to their opposition. The visiting team are working hard as Ollie Lockwood will not let the home team push through the centre and forcing the play to the wings. It is these wings that are now protected by Owain Carlick and John Young respectfully. As the ball spills to John, he makes a curving run to the opposite wing but as he tries to make forward he hits the home defence. Congleton grab the ball and take full advantage they now lead 5-1 Congleton. Winnington drag themselves back to the re-start with their heads commencing to drop. The centre of the pitch is full of tiring heroes who sense that the game may be beyond them. However, playing the ball to the wings it finally finds Louis Kent who runs for route 1 to score Winnington’s second of the match 5-2 Congleton. Again the re-start sees heavy work in the centre of the pitch. Scott Watson using all his might is not going to let the home side through as he pushes the opposition back, despite the inevitable loss he is magnificent in his defiance of the offensive coming his way.With Owain and John, covering the wings they too fight hard until the inevitable happens after sustained attack Congleton score to lead 6-2 Congleton. Our lads pick themselves up for another re-start. The ball is flashed down the line until it reaches Lewis Gibson – his speed catches the home side out and he safely places down the ball for a commiseration try. 6-3 Congleton. Despite the attempts by the coach Winnington heads drop and this allows Congleton to get 2 more tries ending the game Congleton 8 WPRFC 3.

With enormous thanks to Carl Baker, Joe's dad and my fellow "Stato", for writing the reports on the two "Whites" games.

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