Stockport cannot recover from strong start by Manchester
By Mike Atkinson
Despite scoring 4 good tries, Stockport were unable to keep up with a better organised Manchester side
Despite scoring 4 tries away at Manchester, Stockport never recovered from a poor start, which saw Manchester go 15-0 up after 20 minutes. It was not until the second quarter that Stockport eventually got into the Manchester 22 and executed an excellent catch and drive to get onto the scoreboard with a try for Kieran Hibbs. A second try by wing Josh Schofield put Stockport only 3 points behind and a recovery looked possible. Manchester finished the half with a penalty for an 18-12 lead at the break. The home side always looked better organised, and were dominant in the scrum. With their No 12 Doug Day a very good play maker and goal kicker they scored two second half tries and a third penalty to two more Stockport tries to win 35-22. This result puts Manchester ahead of Stockport in the table after Stockport failed to secure a losing bonus to go with their try bonus, as Manchester scored their final try 10 minutes from time.
Stockport conceded a penalty at the kick off and Manchester took the line out option But Dean Schofield won the ball and Stockport cleared to half way. Manchester moved the ball wide to the left and then after several phases back to the right, where they had a good overlap and their No 10 scored on just 3 minutes. The Stockport scrum was under real pressure and Manchester went blind to add another score by their left wing after only 9 minutes. The home side kept up the pressure but turn overs by back rowers Simon Green and Keiran Hibbs allowed some relief before Manchester added a penalty on 22 minutes. At last Stockport got into the Manchester 22 as Green got another turnover and the penalty gave a line out, which was well taken and the drive took the ball 20 metres for Hibbs to get the ball down. Stockport followed up with move good driving play to win a penalty and got close with another line out drive, with a penalty advantage, scrum half Rory Austin broke to the blind side and the try was scored by wing Josh Schofield for 15-12. With Stockport at last in the game a penalty was conceded to give the home side a 6 point advantage at the break.
Manchester added a penalty early in the second half, before one of Stockport’s best plays, substitute wing Alistair Green made a break from his own half into the Manchester 22. The Stockport forwards had a good drive but were turned over and Manchester cleared. Another Stockport attack resulted in a penalty and a yellow card for the Manchester No 12. Stockport took advantage with a drive from the 5 metre line out and a break took Austin in for a score on 51 minutes. Despite there being no conversion Stockport were back in touch at 21-17. Several good attacks broke down as passes went astray. Manchester took a Stockport scrum against the head and some weak tackles and a long miss pass gave their wing an easy try, the conversion by Day took Manchester clear at 28-17. Playing a penalty advantage fly half Tom Eaton put in a good cross kick and the bounce beat the Manchester defenders and Stockport wing Taylor Hopkinson got the touch down to put Stockport in a two bonus point position at 28-22. But it was Manchester who had the last say with converted try on 71 minutes. An excellent break and run by Dan Brotheron and further pressure gave Stockport hope but a failed line out and a penalty for holding on gave the home side the clear victory.
Next week is a home fixture against Waterloo, which is now a must win game in such a close league table.