Stockport start 2019 with a loss
By Keith Warhurst
Who says 3G pitches are bouncy?
Stockport resumed their league campaign with the short away trip to Burnage to kick start 2019. With only 15 players available (and 2 disappointing no shows) it was time for a team shuffle seeing back row Tom 'RomTom' Mounkley into scrum half and Chris 'Asteroid' Astley returning from an injury to take his place in the unfamiliar position of left wing!!!!!
With captain Kyle Chapman demanding an increase in defensive intensity, it was Stockport who kicked off and were out of the blocks making tackles all over the place against a much larger pack, led by Dan Zelinka and Mark Dunnington. With some front foot ball, the attack was shifted from right to left where No.8 Andy English was put over into the corner to record the first try of the game. Unfortunately the attempted conversion from stand off Keith Warhurst struck the upright (although to be fair I'm not known for my kicking prowess and it was from out on the touchline)!! Warhurst soon made amends from this miss by adding a penalty to take Stockport into an 8-0 lead which continued for most of the half due to the unflinching defensive effort of the Stockport lads. Eventually Burnage managed to find a way through when their outside centre found a soft shoulder and went over unopposed for an unconverted try giving the half time score as 8-5 to Stockport.
The second half continued much as the first with neither team giving an inch although Stockport were being outdone by their own mistakes whilst Burnage managed to sneak ahead with another unconverted try giving them a slender 10-8 lead. Warhurst had the chances to put Stockport into the lead but pushed his penalty wide (from smack in front I hasten to add) but 2 points in it there was still all to play for. Stockport threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Burnage but they managed to repel borders and with their bench able to rotate and give players a rest, their fitness levels began to show and at the death they managed to score another unconverted try in the corner (whether it was grounded or not?) to seal a 15-8 win.
Big credit to the Stockport lads who battled all game with the same 15 players, some completely out of position but never gave up athough the deserved spoils go to the home side.