Sat 09
Wolves
25
-
22
League
Wirral
J Kennedy (2)
Tries
B MacCallum (2)
Penalties
B MacCallum (2)
Conversions
Penalty Try
So close at the end

So close at the end

By David Pike
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On a benign sunny October afternoon, there can be no better place to play and watch rugby than at The Memorial Ground.


The magnificent state of the pitches is a testament to the work of Maurice Minns and the changing early autumn hues of the Styal woods make for a perfect backdrop. And on this occasion both sides full of eager young players came out to play attractive attacking rugby because that is their way. It was a good afternoon’s entertainment for everyone present.

The Wolves returned to winning ways with a much improved performance. All week the word from their coaches had been ‘concentration’ and this showed in a much reduced error count and that was just as well because the Wirral side showed, especially in the closing moments, that they had the personnel to thrive in broken play. The Wolves had brought Liam McCrea, the sturdy former Loughborough University student, into the front row to add ballast and stability. It proved to be just the right move and enabled a fresh athletic Lewis MacKay to come on at half time. McCrea himself was reminded of the difference in pace between 2nd. and 1st. team rugby, commenting afterwards that he reckoned his contribution in loose play was only about 20% of what he had been doing on the 2nd. team. Mike Clifford ruled the lineout which delivered a 100% return on the Wilmslow throw but the task was made easier by the reluctance of the Wirral forwards to contest the throw. Bob MacCallum was also back in his favoured No. 10 position, Josh Longmore being sidelined with an ankle injury. The conundrum of whether to play MacCallum or Longmore at fly half, when both are available, will no doubt test the coach and captain again and again. Both are very talented players but there’s no doubt that MacCallum just looks so much more at ease with himself when he’s in that position. Matthew King was back at fullback and the remainder of the side was unchanged.

Consequently, the Wolves enjoyed the greater possession throughout but they found it hard to break down a determined Wirral defence. They forsook a couple of possible penalty kicks early on to keep the pressure on their opponents before Jordan Kennedy’s first half score midway through the half. It came after the ball had been recycled several times before an opening appeared on the left and even then it was only his superior pace, which enabled him to score. MacCallum added a penalty early in the second half and Kennedy then got his second under the posts after seizing on a loose ball in midfield. Ben Day was nearly capitulated in going for the Wolves third try from a fine backs move, the forwards were then denied from two set piece moves before on the third occasion, referee Simon Mackeen awarded them a penalty try.

Wirral kept in touch with a penalty from Dan Harvey, followed by a try from left winger Ali Baker but when it went to 25 – 10 for the Wolves on 75 minutes, they looked out of it. The Wolves pressed for a fourth bonus point winning try in time added on but were penalised for a ‘feeding’ offence at the scrum, not just once but three times in quick succession. The scrums had been unsteady for a while, especially on the Wilmslow put in as the Wirral pack did their best to disrupt it but if scrum half Stuart Lindsey, who had played a full part in the game, was confused by this turn of events, he wouldn’t be to blame because nobody on the touchline had the vaguest idea what was going on in the referee’s mind. The upshot was that the Wirral side showed that they were anything but done for as they seized the chance to break away and to run in two tries from Tim Hodson and Dan Harvey, reducing the deficit to three points after eight minutes of extra time. From the third infringement, Wirral tried the same tactic again but this time they knocked on in the tackle and to the relief of the Wilmslow side referee Mackeen blew his whistle for the final time.

Coach Giles Heagerty was pleased with the win against what he considered to be a decent well coached and well organised side but frustrated at just not knowing what to expect from the referee. How can club coaches be expected to prepare their sides, he added, when interpretation of the laws by referees is so inconsistent? As to our opponents, he said, many of them had come through their club’s junior and colts section, they were young and fit and weren’t lying fourth in the table by chance. We knew that they wouldn’t tire against us in the last quarter. For the Wolves, centre Ricky Chadwick has stood out with his quick feet, enterprise and work rate in recent weeks and thoroughly deserved his Gusto Man of the Match award.

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Match details

Match date

Sat 09, Oct 2010

Kickoff

15:00

Competition

North One West
Ricky Chadwick

Player of the match

Ricky Chadwick