Our victory against Wilmslow was superb but it was a friendly. This match mattered more as it was for the top spot in our Lancashire Cup league table.
The most rewarding point of the day was to see the return of Sean Halpin to the side and Chas Halpin returning to the touchline YOU HAVE BEEN MISSED – welcome back guys.
Blackburn came to Manchester with an excellent reputation and a strong run of form. In recent results they beat Broughton Park 46 -12, Sefton Park 30 – 0 and Sedgley Park 36 – 10. They have been beating our other local rivals with ease – so we knew we were in for a tough game.
Manchester started with a strong line up. There was Max McCormack, Matt Buckingham and Joe Charles making up the Front Row. Josh Doyle and Laurence McCormick in the second row with Greg Stewart and Luke McCreath as flankers. Ciaran Booth took up his usual position at number 8.
Matt Graham took up his position at scrum half with Tom Jones at fly half.
Mason Edmundson and Joe Hewitt were on the wings. Macca (Macauley Jones) and Matty (Matthew Fletcher) were strong centres and Aden Bird was the safety net at full back.
Blackburn looked a strong side – they had a big pack and a strong scrum. There scrum half was a small but game bespectacled young lad.
Blackburn had a lot of early pressure which Manchester withheld. There were a number of scrums which Manchester forwards won. Strong challenges from both sides led to an early Blackburn injury five minutes in. One of their brave lads had to be taken off with a shoulder injury.
There followed a characteristic strong run by Macca deep into the Blackburn half. Manchester lost possession due to a knock on which led to a scrum – Blackburn to put in. Manchester forwards again won the scrum against the head. The ball came out to Tom Jones who laid off sweetly to Mason who sprinted confidently past the Blackburn defence to get the first try. Tom Jones converted a tricky kick with extreme confidence. Game On. 7 – 0 to Manchester
Blackburn kicked off unusually – the ball swerved into the Manchester half and swung back into the Blackburn half before it landed!
There followed another scrum which Manchester won against the head. The Manchester forwards were working well against a pack much bigger than themselves. They were lighter than their opponents but more determined and more disciplined. The forwards had raised their game to another level against a quality opposition.
Yet another scrum which the forwards Manchester won against the head.
The ball was fed out by Matt Graham to Tom Jones who ran strongly to the right wing and again fed Mason. Mason sped through the Blackburn ranks again to get another try. The Tom and Mason show was in full swing!Tom missed the challenging conversion. 12 – 0 to Manchester
The half time whistle blew – Manchester had a strong lead – but there was still much to do.
The Manchester coaches had some tough decisions to make at half team. All the lads to a man had played a blinder – but we had a strong bench who were desperate to get on and play their part in the Lancashire Cup.
Matt Buckingham came off for Joe Corbelli who went straight in at hooker.
Joe Charles came off for Ross Barnes who went into second row and Laurence McCormick moved to prop forward.
Joe Hewitt came off for Sean Halpin who moved to centre. Mattie moved to the wing.
Early in the second half Tom Jones again found Mason who went on another majestic run through the Blackburn defences on the left wing and finished the try under the posts to set up an easy kick for his provider. Tom Jones converted once gain.Manchester 19 Blackburn0
Sean Halpin made a strong run through the centre with piles of power and aggression. There was a small altercation between the Blackburn and Manchester lads. Temperatures flared but the referee maintained control
Joe McConnell came on for Aiden Bird. Joe went on the wing and Mason moved to full back.
There was a five minute maul which ebbed and flowed. Ross held onto the ball well preventing a Blackburn turnover.
The ball came out to Tom Jones who deftly kicked the ball over the top of the Blackburn forwards for Manchester to chase. Ciaran Booth was ready for the challenge and raced through to capture the ball and deliver a superb team try under the posts. Tom Jones converted once more. 26 - 0 to Manchester
By now Alex Myers Jones, Luke Boon and Niall Smidi had entered the fray.
Macca broke through the middle, the Blackburn defenders were hanging off him but he shook them off and raced through for another superb Manchester try. Tom Jones converted once more.
Final Score 33 – 0 to Manchester
Another famous victory from the Manchester lads.
Hopefully I have mentioned everyone who took part. There were some eye catching performances notably from Mason and Tom Jones but it would be unfair to single out any individual players.
The forwards were unsung but outstanding – they performed extremely well against a much larger Blackburn set of forwards. The backs were ruthless in there execution of the tries and their tackling.
WELL DONE TO THE WHOLE SQUAD AND THE COACHES
The Lads gave us all a brilliant early Christmas present – thanks very much.
Thanks to Blackburn who brought a competitive squad to the Cup fixture and competed well for the whole of the game, we wish them good luck in the remainder of the Lancashire Cup and look forward to fixtures in the future.