The new season has finally landed and to open the proceedings Knutsford travelled to Altrincham Kersal on a dry, sunny and calm day in Manchester.
Knutsford, dressed in yellow were opposed by Altrincham Kersal rugby club who in the previous season had been comfortable wins both home and away for Knutsford so their strong team was looking for a rousing start to the 22/23 campaign.
Knutsford got into their pattern early and was clear that pre-season training had certainly been encouraging as great phase play by Giles Robertson and Jack Field created a solid platform up the field with Stefano Spinola breaking through their line early setting a positive tone to the start of the game
Knutsford's pressure told with the first score of the game as Jack Field barged his way over under the posts for his first try of the season after a superb crash ball from Captain Sam Bensky was recycled efficiently. Tom Copsey bagged the extras from in front of the posts
Cook didn't take long to open his account shortly after, a superb break in midfield by Flyhalf James Docherty was supported on his inside by Cook who fended off the last defender to touch down under the posts with again Copsey adding the extras.
Cook again crossed after big Jim Southall in the centres broke through the AK defence, his marauding run saw off 3 tacklers before offloading to the supporting Cook who finished out wide. Slightly harder kick was missed by Copsey and Knutsford who had rode their luck on an ever increasing penalty count up to now, rued the sin binning of Jack Field for repeat offending just before half time.
Just after half time Cook completed a season opening hat trick after Tom Copsey made a superb break in midfield after excellent forward play by Cameron Smyth and Harry Beasley allowed Dan McQuade at 8 to bust through the defensive line. Offloading to Copsey he rounded 2 before supplying the backline and Cook finished in front of the clubhouse. Extras missed.
Knutsford let AK back in through lapses in communication, discipline around the bases of the rucks and tiredness which is to be expected at this early stage in the season but the penalty count mounted far higher than expected adding unnecessary pressure which could have been avoided, AK managed several quick scores but too little too late and Knutsford was able to turn the screw and mount a larger score than previous meetings.
No.8 Dan McQuade powered over to score after excellent line out ball was won and the forwards Dan Barnes and Kyle Blake handled some fantastic passes to find McQuade with ten yards to the line.
Player of the match Lewis Davies at 9 marshalled the game superbly and took his kicks for the later tries with aplomb, he set up Harry Beasley for the first of his two tries in the game beautifully with a perfectly timed pass to allow Beasley to convert under the posts.
Flyhalf Docherty who had had a superb game from both hand and boot bagged a try of his own after the tiring AK missed a midfield tackle, he was able to run from the half way line to score and again Lewis Davies converted.
Harry Beasley scored again after some excellent backs work put Declan Mcloughlin through to score, he was caught by the last man but Cook managed to recycle the ball and feed Beasley for his brace.
Finally and on his debut, Sam Gray scored after his excellent running line saw him receive the ball on the outside on an overlap and Gray outpaced the last 2 onrushing defenders to score under the posts.
All in all a solid performance from Knutsford. Defensively strong with positives to take, fitness will come but some of the open play handling and finishing was excellent. Just need to keep that penalty count down!