Match Report by Matthew Miles
Away matches haven’t always proved too bountiful for Manchester this season but Sunday was a must-win game as far as their title hopes were concerned. Fortunately, the lads were up to the task with their grittiest performance of the season.
In the first half, defences were totally on top. Manchester spent virtually the whole of the first 15 minutes camped in the home team’s half but were repelled time after time by some brave tackling.
The intensity was immense from both teams in the first period and clear try scoring attempts were few and far between. However, the visitors did manage to get their noses in front before the break. Solid phase play saw the Academy side gain good territory which resulted in Chester conceding a costly penalty 30 yards out. With the trusty boot of Will on hand, Manchester went into half time with a slender three point lead.
There was no let up at the start of the second half. Discipline started to go astray at both ends at this point. The teams shared 3 yellows between them though it didn’t seem to have a great effect on proceedings as the arm wrestling continued.
The course of the game finally changed decisively after 46 minutes. Will, who five minutes earlier missed a tricky penalty kick, more than made up with a fine try. A great break from H was followed by Will who chipped through and touched down to give the visitors some priceless daylight. Will himself then converted to make the score 0-10.
The try seemed to knock the stuffing out of a tiring Chester team. Possession was increasingly improving in Manchester’s favour and an away win now seemed inevitable.
The icing on the cake was provided late on. Chester were now struggling to scramble their once impregnable rear guard. With Manchester outnumbering the home side on the flank, the ball found it’s way out to Toby who scored a try that his team mates are now fearing they’ll never hear the last of. A smart finish from a dominant Academy side. Final score 0-15.
Every single player, from Jake’s peerless line out work to H’s sniping runs, played a massive part in what could prove to be our biggest result of the season.
The Academy now go into their last three matches with a one point advantage at the top of the Division. Much work to do but the boys are now definitely in the driving seat.