Match Report: Vale of Lune 37 - Bowden 41
Powder House Lane was lit up by the September sunshine, the glamour of Ladies' Day and a thrilling game of end-to-end rugby.
A steely determination was evident among the Vale players, keen to put last week's disappointment behind them and show what they are really capable of. These elements combined to produce a splendid afternoon of sport, to make even the neutral observer clench in excitement.
Winger Jordan Fern, due to celebrate his one hundredth 1st team appearance, succumbed to an injury during the warm-up, thus elevating Ryan Allwood to the starting lineup.
The Vale began with purpose, setting up camp in Bowden's half and forcing errors. Damon Hall assumed kicking duties and soon cannoned over two penalty kicks to claim an early lead.
Bowden found their balance and pressed the Vale with relentless forward play. A try in the right corner went unconverted and Vale remained ahead, but not for long.
Pictured below, Jack Ayrton wins the ball
A second Bowden try followed and after one more penalty kick for each side, the half time score was 9 - 15 to the visitors from Greater Manchester.
Vale head coach Dan Williams ordered a reshuffle for the second half. Joe Stevens, marking his 50th first team game, made way for Owen Branford in the front row and Adam Foxcroft came into the second row.
Debutant stand-off Henry Clifton moved to the left wing. Damon Hall soon found himself in possession inside his own half. He saw a gap and tore through it, burning off the trailing defence all the way to the touchline, a fifty-five yard sprint which brought the crowd onto their tiptoes.
The Vale were lifted by Hall's example. On the left flank, Billy Swarbrick skilfully placed a grubber kick along the ground for Clifton to chase. Clifton outpaced the Bowden backs, kicked the ball over the line and touched it down for a debut try. Bowden came back once more, scoring a left corner try within seconds of the restart. At the Bowden end, centre Isaac Quarry put in the work to get the ball in range of the powerful Ryan Allwood to score on the right.
Pictured below, Ryan Allwood on a run.
Bowden's habit of striking back instantly continued and the next one gave them back the lead. Vale had their own weaponry with which to respond. Quarry and Sam Wallbank combined to put Hall in to score again and reclaim the upper hand. With two minutes remaining on the clock, a win looked tantalisingly close for the Vale but, when Jack Ayrton was deemed to have impeded play illegally, he was sent to the bin, leaving Bowden to exert their forward power to claim the final try with the last move of the game.
Reflecting on the match, which earned the Vale two bonus league points, Dan Williams said that he was pleased with the progress of the team. With more regular 1st teamers due to return soon, he has every reason for optimism.
Next week, the Vale take to the road to play Crewe & Nantwich in NW2. Coach leaves at 11.30am. Kick-off at 3pm.
Team: G. Oyston, D. Griffiths, J. Stevens, J. Harrison, J. Wallbank, A. Bolton, J. Ayrton, S. Wallbank, B. Swarbrick, H. Clifton, I. Quarry, O. Jacques, C. Ramwell, R. Allwood, D. Hall. Reps: A. Foxcroft, O. Branford.