Stockport 42 v Manchester 34
Manchester lose out in 11 try thriller
Once again Manchester started poorly, making some basic mistakes which gifted Stockport both territory and points.
From the kick off Manchester were not organised and struggled to make a clean exit, losing possession on the 22 metre line the guards missed their tackle at a ruck allowing Stockport to make a clean break for a try which was converted, 7v0.
Shortly after the re-start Manchester conceded a penalty which allowed Stockport to kick for touch on the right side at the 22 metre line. With a strong line out and a clear weight advantage, Stockport caught the ball and drove with such momentum that they almost jogged to the try line, the ball was touched down at the back, with a further conversion it was 14v0 to the home side with barely 10 minutes played.
From the next re-start Manchester had a good spell and exerted pressure deep in the opposition half. Managing to turnover possession they had several clean phases of play before Jay made a half break and with a deft off load put Joe Williams in for a try under the sticks, converted to make it 14v7.
Having got back in the game, another basic mistake at the kick off so the ball dropped for Charlie Ding to pick up in an offside position, the penalty was coolly slotted 17v7 to Stockport.
For a while there was little of note to report as both sides swapped knock on’s and did not have any sustained possession.
When Stockport were guilty of not releasing the resultant penalty was kicked to touch on the 22 metre line. Clean line out ball allowed Manchester to mount a series of drives taking them close to the try line, where Calumn Baines crashed over from 3 yards, Day converted to make it 17v14.
With half time approaching it was crucial Manchester kept the score close from now on, however, poor defense in the mild field, mixed with some ill discipline, allowed Stockport to stretch away. Manchester finished the first half as they had started, conceding two soft tries, one converted and with an added penalty they now trailed 32v14.
Thoughts of the travelling support now switched away from a derby win to can we achieve one or two bonus points.
Facing an uphill struggle Manchester came out in the second half with much more intent and from a good spell of possession in the opposition half were able to put Joe Houghton in wide-out, conversion missed 32v19.
What proved to be the killer blow, came around 10 minutes into the second half; from a maul close to the Manchester 22, a Stockport player unexpectedly came out of the back and despite despairing attempts was not brought down, try converted score now 39v19.
To Manchester’s credit as seen in previous games the heads did not go down, using all 3 substitutes, positional changes were made and Manchester dominated the rest of the game; as they kept possession and Stockport started to flag. A further try brought the scores closer together and gave Manchester heart, a fairly easy conversion was missed, 32v24.
As the pressure mounted on Stockport their 10 was guilty of offside and slapping a pass down deep in his 22, no hesitation from the ref led to a yellow card. Manchester opted for a scrum but lost the ball in contact, leading to an offside from which Stockport cleared their lines; allowing them to mount serious pressure on the Manchester line. This time the defense was resolute, the ball was turned over for a Manchester scrum, from which Brodie picked up and was harshly adjudged to have lead with an elbow when going into contact, penalty kicked by Stockport score 42-24.
With barely 10 minutes to go victory looked assured for Stockport, however, Manchester thought otherwise, twice the ball was moved wide to the right for first Seb Longwood and then Doug Day to score, unfortunately neither was converted to leave the score at 42v34 as time ran out. Cruelly Manchester left one point short of a second bonus point and rueing the poor start and finish to the first half.
Another strong attacking display, scoring 6 tries and losing must be hard to swallow, however, work is needed once again on getting out of the blocks and defence. Manchester should take heart from their ability to score tries which has led to many more bonus points this season than last. As a team they are moving forward, providing entertaining rugby for their loyal supporters, which is a credit to the coaching staffs’ philosophy and direction.
Close to the finished article, Manchester just need to up the defence and cut out the odd silly mistake. Next week’s home game against Carlisle the league leaders, will show just how far the team has come.