Stockport forwards dominate in gale but lose 8-7 to last minute penalty
By Mike Atkinson
Atrocious conditions restrict good handling but Stockport forwards rise to challenge and dominate territory and possession until penalty steals victory for Douglas
Conditions in the Isle of Man could not have been worse as Stockport took on Douglas in gale force winds and vicious driving rain. It was always going to be a tough fixture but the weather made it even harder and the Stockport forwards rose to the challenge. Dominating possession and through some good kicking despite the wind by the backs, territory as well, Stockport were unfortunate to lose by 1 point as Douglas converted an injury time penalty to win 8-7. The home side never threatened the Stockport line apart from a lucky try when a hack ahead and a dubious touch down gave them a try, which added to that injury time penalty allowed them to win a game in which they had been second best to a great Stockport performance.
The Stockport scrum dominated early on, Simon Green made an impressive break and his kick ahead gave Stockport a chance to create pressure. A penalty and line out gave Stockport a chance to opt for a scrum 15 metres out, the ball went left and centre Tom Eaton sent a pass back to the right, wing Matt King took the pass and his well placed grubber kick allowed him to chase and gather to score a great individual try. Unbelievably Liam McGovern made the conversion despite the wind. It was 0-7 after 17 minutes. Douglas conceded a sequence of penalties at the scrum and Stockport put on real pressure in the last quarter, getting over the line on one occasion but not managing to ground the ball. Having put up some strong defence under the Stockport pressure Douglas finished the half with some determination and Stockport had to hold out for two minutes as Douglas camped in their 22.
Playing into the wind in the second half Stockport continued to dominate territory and possession as the forwards carried, drove and scrummed with real commitment. The backs were never going to be able to express themselves in the conditions but their tackling and kicking kept Douglas mostly in their own half. After 61 minutes, Douglas managed to hack a loose ball on halfway into the Stockport 22, it was hard for the Stockport defence to get control of the ball and the Douglas player following managed to touch down despite appearing to have knocked on, there was no conversion so it was 5-7 and Stockport had less than 20 minutes to play. They dominated that 20 minutes, with Douglas hardly getting into the Stockport half, until that final minute when the penalty conceded on the Stockport 22 allowed them to kick the penalty that gave them a one point win.
Stockport remain in second place, one point ahead of Douglas, the next fixture is against Broughton Park at home on 5 January.