Broughton Park 31 v Manchester 10
Yet again Manchester failed to immediately engage with the task in hand and for the fourth time this year they found themselves three scores down within the first quarter.
One must ask: when will they wake up up to the fact that the start of any game is vital in setting the tone for the whole match?
Kicking off on a perfect day for rugby, no-one was in position to receive the tap down from a leaping Tyrrel, a Broughton Park forward gratefully gathering the ball and set off up the pitch reached his 40m line before being stopped. Park then simply fed the backs who immediately spread the ball against a half broken retreating defensive line, created a two-on-one wide right.
Three easy ‘draw and gives’ and an overlap, repeated going back to midfield against a scrambling defence and they score under the posts, courtesy of their left wing Sam Bryson, conversion Josh Hodgson. 7:0.
The absence of sufficient cover defense was immediately extremely concerning, the first phase breakthrough ominous. 1 minute 20 on the clock!
This process was sadly repeated within 5 minutes , a failure to drift resulting in another outflanking with an enthusiastic Broughton Park lock Lawrence Tully providing the support to score wide out, with the conversion missed,12-0 down after 7 minutes with the home side ever more eager to provide support.
Still little signs of life in the visitors!
It took a second similar try by Sam Ryan for Manchester to finally wake up around the 10 minute mark. 17-0 down!
Over the course of the next twenty minutes the more competitive nature of the bulk of the game became apparent. Manchester began to retain possession a little and slowly worked their way upfield, significantly helped by occasional home side transgressions. Three times Manchester kicked to the corner trying to set up a high pressure “red zone” attacking stall, but each time loss of the ball in contact or a pass going astray cost us any momentum.
Broughton then got a deep foothold in the visitors 22 following a Manchester player failing to roll away from the tackle area. However a not-straight lineout and a good defensive scrum enabled Tyrrel to pick up and gain some breathing space up to the 22. Crisis averted!
On 35 minutes Tyrrel, lurking on the wing, broke through in midfield with two consecutive forceful hand-offs and after an impressive 50 metres solo effort scored in the corner.
Manchester were finally on the scoreboard albeit the conversion was too wide to be successful.17-5 at the half, still a bit of hope for Manchester.
However, a worrying aspect was evident; three well-supported try-scoring breaks by the home side, one long run to the line by the away team. Tyrrel looking pretty lonely as he scored with the nearest four players all with black shirts.
The second half continued in the same vein. Tyrrel was moved to the wing in the hope of giving him more runs. Brodie came on, taking over at 8, providing a bit more go forward in the creaking scrum.
Although it was a more aggressive cohesive start to the second half Manchester were still finding it difficult to play more than 3 or 4 phases without knocking on or losing the ball in contact. Manchester’s occasional line breakers were still being left isolated, whereas B.P. were more frustrated by simple knock-ons or poor passes when pouring through after their line-breaks.
Manchester were at least managing to retain the Lion’s share of possession in the second half, aided by the home side kicking significantly more for field position, but the dangers of the home sides attacks were ever present.On one of their infrequent midfield possessions, led to an apparent knock-on onto a foot which appeared to stop all players on the pitch in their tracks, but when the ref signalled play-on it was the home side who reacted the quickest with the accomplished fly half Josh Hodgson first to support the break,converting his own bonus point try. Again several teammates were in close support. 24-5.
A few minutes later, clearly rejuvenated by the bonus point and despite the far too frequent handling errors, a simple one-on-one tackle miss in midfield allowed their strong outside centre, Jack Kelly, to canter in from halfway. Easy conversion by Hodkinson: 31-5. Game won.
Manchester redoubled their efforts to put scores on the board in the last quarter but on the few occasions they got on the front foot (with Jake Stewart and Brian Ndlovu starting to carry effectively) sufficent support was still sadly lacking and transient momentum was lost.
A magnificent solo break by Doug Day was however rewarded when 4 Broughton players appeared to go off their feet (at least in the refs eyes) in their eagerness to launch a counter attack, as the completely recumbent player was being stripped of the ball. Not another single Manchester player within 15 metres!
One last penalty for Manchester lead to another corner ball this time the resulting driving maul being successfully marshalled as Karl Higginbottom went in for a consolation score 2 minutes from time.
Promoted Broughton Park were fully deserving of their BP victory and will do well this season in this league, especially if they manage cut down on their penalties and keep 15 players on the pitch. Their players eagerness, evident throughout the match, will hold them in good stead!
Manchester on the other hand have to urgently address the obvious in order to avoid making this season an awful lot longer than it needs to be.
Another game virtually lost in the first quarter indicates attitudes need to change: in the author’s opinion that sort of under performance is rooted in the mindset as one takes the pitch.
On a more optimistic note: Once into the game we are competitive and will win plenty of matches provided we also cut down on our error rate in contact and make much more effort to offer close support to other players when they do get beyond the gain line.