An unfortunate loss and our first game on the 4G pitch.
By Arthur Crabtree
Didsbury Toc H 5- Orrell 7
A day to forget as Orrell ended Toc's winning streak in a tight and ugly encounter at Platt Lane.
It's hard to know where to start. This was not a good game of rugby and the sooner Toc park it and move on the better. This defeat, though, is the kind that will linger for some time.
Didsbury blew countless scoring opportunities which, with depressingly predictability, came back to haunt them. The effort and intent of the players cannot be questioned - but a familiar lack of composure in key areas and poor game management proved costly.
To their credit Orrell defended brilliantly throughout and took their chance to win with the last kick of the game. It was agonising for Toc, but there can be no qualms about the result. The visitors' commitment was impressive and they were made to absorb a lot of pressure. Their only other clear chances to score were from a couple of penalty kicks from distance.
Given the nature of all Toc’s games so far this season, a high-scoring, free-flowing game was anticipated, especially as this match was being played on a 3G surface at Manchester Metropolitan University. One would have thought these conditions played to Didsbury’s strengths – but their adventure was too often undermined by basic handling errors and poor decision-making.
The turnover count from both sides was high. Toc generally forced the pace of play, but by continually repeating the same mistakes it made for disjointed, stop-start game which helped Orrell. This was also an ill-tempered and deeply unpleasant match between two sides who’ve shared some memorable encounters in the past few seasons in the North Lancs and Cumbria division.
Toc started complacently - but soon grew into the game. Some fluent passages of play in the first quarter suggested it was just a matter of time before Toc could build some scoreboard pressure. That never happened and as time ticked on that belief slowly began to fade. By the half-hour mark it became abundantly clear that this, indeed, would be one of those days where nothing goes right.
Clearly, Orrell’s defensive effort was another contributing factor to such a low-scoring and stilted game, even when they went down to 14 men after an arguably harsh sin-bin for a high tackle. Toc’s reluctance to go for a goal on a number of occasions in what was clearly going to be a tough game would also prove crucial.
The conditions under foot were perfect so it was difficult to grasp how the breakdown became such a chaotic mess all afternoon. Toc lacked accuracy and, at times, the necessary numbers which denied them a lot of quick, clean ball. That said, they still should have done better with the decent ball that they did create. Orrell's attack was one-dimensional so caused Toc very few problems defensively - but it did allow them to keep the ball tight and take pace out of the game.
The score at half time was 0-0, which accurately reflected the attacking quality on show. (We would put the video highlights on here if there were any). Unfortunately for Toc the second-half reflected the first. Some fleeting moments of enterprise gave them good field position before wasteful finishing or loose handling allowed Orrell to easily clear their lines. Outside-centre Arthur Delamare, one of the few shining lights for Toc, eventually crossed in the corner with about 15 minutes to go. Five minutes later they had the chance to shut the game down with a makeable penalty from the 15-metre line - but that was put wide.
Even so, Toc still should have closed things out. With a minute to play they had possession and decent field position - but a poor kick into the middle of the pitch enabled Orrell to launch a final attack. A penalty on the half-way line then granted the visitors easy access to the Toc 22, which was possibly their only visit in the second half, and from there they eventually crossed in the left corner. The way things had gone, the conversion from the touchline was always going to go over.
Elsewhere, it was a bad weekend all round for the club. The 4s lost narrowly to Old Bedians 3s, the 3s lost narrowly to a very strong Congleton side and although the 2s won away at Capenhurst, the result is void because the referee didn't show up. The Laides also carried on their unbeaten season, beating Preston Grasshoppers 31-5.
Next week the 1st XV is away at Wigan.