Ruskin Park vs Mossley Hill
It was a typically blustery January fixture as Mossley Hill travelled to Ruskin Park looking to set things straight after last weeks poor performance and after the best weeks training in a while and after solid warm up hopes were high.
Mossley kicked off an immediately won a couple of penalties, which I’m reliably informed by Pat were both his turnovers. Mossley finally took advantage at the second attempt after a sighter, Dave Guest slotted the second penalty to make it 0-3 to Mossley.
Mossley have settled really well in the first 15, great tackling across the team and a couple of turnovers forcing errors on the Ruskin side who look surprised by the intensity Mossley are bringing to the table, we are looking much improved this week.
However, following this sustained period of pressure Mossley in typical fashion give away a silly penalty and let Ruskin level things up at 3-3.
Not to be overawed Mossley were working their way into the Ruskin half, working to a game plan, which today was having success through the forwards working the fringes and building pressure. This nearly told as Mossley looked to have scored but controversially Jamie Byrne was adjudged to have been held up after crashing over.
That minor setback didn’t deter Mossley, who look really up for this as Andy Brown (who is getting a reputation for spotting little holes, not just in his patients in the dentist chair but in opposition defences) burrowed over a couple of minutes later to score. Guesty narrowly pushes the conversion in windy conditions. 3-8 Mossley.
Mossley playing really well here, with the forwards really having an influence and taking the game to an equally big if not bigger Ruskin pack, there were some heavy carries from Ste Birkett and Jamie Byrne making consistent yards, well backed up by the constant talking and coaching from the rest of the pack who are working well as an 8. Sadly though and somewhat against the run of play, Ruskin’s full back, arguably the fastest man on the pitch by a distance breaks the Mossley line to score under the posts. 10-8 with the conversion to Ruskin.
Mossley didn’t let that deter them and are right back on the attack, Pat Powney having a blinder in broken play, carrying and making yards every time he was given the ball. Half time 10-8. Mossley really unlucky to go in behind and Ruskin certainly know they are in a game here.
Ruskin start the second half better and take advantage of some pressure they were able to build from their scrum (which is looking a weapon today) and score under the posts again running some good lines in the backs 17-8 with the conversion. A little disappointing for us to be carved open right through the middle of the field but it’s right to recognise it’s more good play from Ruskin as opposed to poor play from us. Mossley now have it all to do now, arguably behind against the run of play after their first half but this 20 minutes have really swung the game Ruskins way.
As time ticks by it looks like a game of two halves here mainly due to the weather, Mossley haven’t been able to put much together and have started conceding needless penalties in front of their own posts, 20-8 Ruskin. Ruskin are pinning them back well with a good kicking game, utilising the wind in a contrasting game plan to Mossleys physical game played in the same conditions first half.
60/65 minutes in and Mossley really need to get some ball in hand as although defending valiantly, (with Phil and Peter Norberry in particular having standout games defensively) we don’t look like scoring and they certainly do.
Thankfully Mossley are finally starting to get some ball (have Ruskin thought this game was won to early?).
Just as Mossley were beginning to build some valuable momentum a poor exit from our own 22 following a scrum misses touch is punished by their full back again, using his speed to assist and easy try in the far corner. A hammer blow in the outcome of the game one would think. As they say around the UK in South Lancs Cheshire Division 3, you get punished by the best teams when you make mistakes such as this one...
Ruskin have been the better team in the second half in all fairness, but Mossley could be left ruing missed chances when they played really well in the first 40. 25-8 with 10-15 to go.
Not to focus on the negatives, both teams had started to ring the changes, Red Rob was off (with what looks like a broken finger, not caused surprisingly by punching one of their players or Andy???) and Daffyd and Andy B on providing some much needed energy and staving off their hypothermia on the sidelines which had begun to set in.
With all of this going on it would be unfair not to mention what the fans have been calling for; Whittaker, Powney and A Jones front row, assisted by The basher, Birkett and Jimmy who had started to get the scrum together, managing to apply some pressure to the much bigger Ruskin pack and get them going backwards for the first time in the game.
Into the last 10, Mossley pushing for a late try with a blend of forwards and backs play, Pat is held up over the line, this one looks to be fair, Ruskin have been good at tying the ball up and creating mauls all game.
The scrum now seems to be providing us a good platform with 1,2,3,4,5 penalties in the Ruskin red zone now, and I’m beginning to run out of fingers in terms of keeping up. One would be expecting to see at least a card and potentially a penalty try but not in this game, Mossley try and force things too much and are called for crossing, creating much needed rest for Ruskins resolute defence. Just lacking that finishing edge in the final 5 it seems.
Maybe with some more strict officiating we would have come away with points and set up up for a grandstand finish...
Into the last 5 minutes and it’s probably too much for us to do now to get back into this.
I’m writing the last message as if it’s full time, somehow this game hasn’t finished we must be in the 95th minute and Ruskin are now up to double figures in the penalty count with nobody in the bin (seems to be the story of the last quarter of the game) have you left your cards in the changes?
Testament to our fitness and spirit after looking tired at the start of the second half Mossley are finishing the much stronger team. I’m not sure I’ve seen us have this much ball without scoring, with pretty much everyone in the 15 on the pitch having a go at going over and coming up short.
Into extra, extra time here and Mossley finish with a well deserved try, in the last 15 minutes we have sprung back into life and scored in the corner looking a threat like we did first half with the same tactics.
Jimmy rightly points out post match that this came from his excellent decision to pick when in our 5 meter line with our scrum under pressure, we then worked our way all the way up the pitch before Patrick ‘the molerat’ Powney burrowed over for 3rd of 4th try of the season (he has scored that many he says has lost count in his post match interview), capping off a good performance from the VC, Guesty’s conversion is wide and that rounds things of 25-13 Ruskin at the final whistle.
Good performance all round, while we never want to lose I’m sure we can all agree, we can take a lot more from a defeat like that as opposed to 7 days ago, so a big pat on the back all round there. It’s rightly pointed out post match that we haven’t learnt anything in 7 days, but with a good training session under our belts on Thursday and a better attitude this is what we can do.
It turns out a 20 minute spell at the start of the second half proved to be our undoing here when Ruskin arguably played the horrible conditions better with a kicking game and at that stage a strong scrum setting up some slick back moves for their tries.
On a brighter note it could be worse, at least we weren’t on the receiving end of a 79-0 defeat to Ramsey like Oldershaw were today!
Let’s get everyone down on the next two Thursdays and smash Ellesmere Port on the 26th.