Match report: Vale of Lune 42 - Douglas I.O.M. 7.
The clouds had thinned out nicely and the ground had overcome the diluvian onslaught of midweek. Between the two, the Powder House Lane stage was set for a 'bottom of the table' clash which carried high value to both parties. Having beaten Douglas twice last season, the Vale faithful were full of hope for a leap up the NW2 table.
A 1pm kick off sparked early energy from the home side. From a well-controlled scrum on the Douglas ten metre line, Billy Swarbrick emerged in possession and chipped into space for Ramwell to chase down the bobbling egg for the opening try, which he went on to convert. Within minutes, Vale pressure and swift handling gave Ramwell another opportunity. Fighting to control a high bobbling ball, he finally made solid contact and dived over to stretch the lead. The Vale backs were imperious, having new dad Alex Briggs back in the number ten shirt after injury, they pressed the beleaguered Manxmen back in their own twenty-two, allowing second row Joe Harrison to power over in a manner which is fast becoming his trademark move.
Douglas were not prepared to roll over. They dug deep and did what was needed to force errors from the Vale in defence. After two near misses, The visitors registered some points on Big Les' scoreboard with a hard fought try, gained by exploiting poor tackling where it mattered. Half time arrived with the Vale 21 - 7 up.
The second half brought a change of tactics. Promising winger Daniel Leighton made way for Damon Hall, who applied his skill and speed to the Vale attack. Hall soon made his presence felt with a scorching dash along the right flank to score under the posts. When prop Archie Fowler and stand-off Richard Chadwick entered the fray, the Vale further increased their output. Fowler claimed the hard yards and his pack poured into the resultant void to secure possession. The combination of eager forward support and fast passing from the backs put Hall in for another try under the posts. The final Vale try came from a quick thinking Joe Stevens who put in the crucial pass to allow Ramwell to cross the white line once more.
Douglas were by then playing for pride only. They pressed sufficiently to force the referee to order Fowler and Harrison to leave the field for minor misdemeanours, but it was all academic by then. Last week's debutantes, Fowler, Leighton and Kyriacou were able to feel the warmth of a first team home crowd for the first time, as well as the satisfaction of a Vale win. Although Ramwell registered three tries and a 7/7 conversion stat, it was flanker Sam Walton's excellent work rate which afforded him 'player of the match' status.
Next week, the Vale go to Firwood Waterloo on Merseyside, invigorated by this handsome win and ever more keen to climb the NW2 ranks.
Team: O. Branford, D. Griffiths, J. Stevens, M. Field, J. Harrison, A. Bolton, J. Ayrton, B. Swarbrick, A. Briggs, H. Dodge, O. Jacques, C. Ramwell, D. Leighton, C. Kyriacou. Reps: D. Hall, A. Fowler, R. Chadwick.