Tarleton 28 - 25 Aldwinians
By TREV HULMES
Two evenly matched sides who should have shared the spoils, but the home club just about had the edge in composure.
After an early setback the Aldwinians team regrouped to keep the scoreline tight at half time. It is not often spectators witness a try scored as fast as the one Tarleton served up as the game started. Wade Martin
kicked the ball from the centre point giving it plenty of air to enable the forwards to challenge the Tarleton catcher.Unfortunately ,the ability to tackle effectively didn’t match the charge, and the ball carrier evaded the first challenge easily and set off into space.He had a number of three quarters outside him who were able to run from deep.They found to their surprise that the tackling illness that had obviously beset the Aldwinians side on their journey to Tarleton had affected other players as well!Like greased lightning they tore through the defence and the try was scored under the posts with 60 seconds gone with the conversion giving them a 7 -0 lead.
After this shock, a semblance of normality was established,as Aldwinians focused on the job in hand.With both teams safe in mid table , there was not much at stake in this match ,but with Tarleton winning the earlier league game at Audenshaw Park , there were bragging rights to be decided. A timely tackle from hooker Lewis Gambles
,put the visitors on the front foot and with play on Tarletons 22 line,an error from them allowed Aldwinians to get on the scoreboard with a Wade Martin
penalty on 9 mins.More good news followed.A long, wind assisted kick from Martin left Aldwinians camped in the home 22, from where the forwards drove forward ,taken on by second row Andrew Ormrod
.An audacious dummy pass from him opened up the road ahead,and he lit the field up with his electrifying run to the line to put the visitors ahead for the first time on 16 mins.Martin extended the score to 7 -10 .
Tarleton recovered their poise and worryingly opened up the Aldwinians defence again as centre Jamie Henderson
raced out of his defensive line.Keeping territory Tarleton moved to a lineout and won it and took the ball into midfield.The centre burst at pace through flailing arms,passed to his support for an easy yet well worked try on 20 mins. With the conversion Tarleton had recovered the lead at 14 -10.They continued to look dangerous with ball in hand but Aldwinians were assisted with a penalty award. Martin again used the wind to land a 50 mtre line kick to a line out on the home 10 mtre line. An accurate throw in helped the forward drive where it was clear Aldwinians were getting the upper hand.Tarleton gave away a penalty and it was Martin again stepping up to land three more points to make it 14 -13 on 26 mins.A poor restart from the home side put Aldwinians on the front foot,earning a penalty for not releasing and Martin launching the ball again deep on the left.Another secure line out throw and Connor Prendergast
led his forwards on a driving maul that edged over the Tarleton line.The defence did well to prevent the grounding for a 5 mtre scrum.A pick up and drive from back row David Tootill
assisted by Paul Gilbertson
opened the defence to enable Connnor Prendergast to score the try on 33 mins.The lead of 14 -18 was however short-lived as Tarleton emulated the style of their first try with their third of the game only a minute later. Untouched by human hand,the waves of the Aldwinians defence parted again, as they invited the opposition through their ranks to quickly regain the lead at 21-18 which was held through to half time.
Thirty nine points scored in the first half, so the lack of any points in the second half until the 76th minute was a surprise.The half was disrupted in the 43rd minute with a leg injury to the match referee, who was unable to continue. Fortunately, a Society referee was handling the third team game on the adjoining pitch who willingly took over the game.There was a general malaise about the play as it meandered around midfield in the third quarter.Aldwinians struggled to regain their poise and found it difficult to engineer any openings. Tarleton benefited from a string of consecutive penalties in their favour , then the balance of penalties fell Aldwinians way .Things started to get exciting when David Tootill
burst through to be held 3 mtres short of the line on 65 mins.Possession was lost but a charge down of the attempted clearance gave Aldwinians a 5 mtre scrum.A resulting penalty plus a Yellow card against Tarleton offered a perfect opportunity to level the scores and play the next 10 mins against 14 men.However, the proximity of the line offered the other options of a scrum or tap penalty.The scrum option was taken, but the scrum was turned over by Tarleton and they escaped unscathed in points terms.The great escape continued as Tarleton kicked long out of defence to lift the pressure that had been on them .Play returned back to midfield and beyond, protecting Tarleton’s slender lead.In the 76 min it became a wider margin again as Aldwinians defensive line was put under pressure again , and once more it failed. The Tarleton backs spun the ball across to left to scream over the line wide out and earn the try bonus point.A superb conversion stretched the margin out to 28 -18 with four minutes left.
Despite their frustrations, there was still an air of optimism in the Aldwinians ranks .The bustling attacking skills of back row David Tootill
are respected by opponents,and they could do nothing about his charging run in the 78 min to drive in under the posts to give some hope of a last minute turnround.(Archive photo above of a Tootill drive at Tarletons defence) Martins conversion brought the margin back to 28-25, but time ran out to get level or win..
This Saturday brings the last league game of the season to Audenshaw Park. The visitors are Keswick and an early kick off at 12.30 am has been agreed.