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Vale A team outdone at home by Stockport

Vale's Eddie Abdelghafar in action against Stockport. Photo by Tony North

Match Report: Vale 2nds 19 Stockport 2nds 43

The conclusion of the rugby season brings some benefits. The warmer weather is one, and Powder House Lane saw the best of it on an April Saturday.

The atmosphere was befitting a Spring party. This Halbro Baines Plumbing League 1 second string clash followed a lunchtime kick-off for a Colts touring side from the Old Halesonians club from the West Midlands, playing an end-of-season fixture a Vale Junior Colts side.

The young visitors, all in impressive fancy dress, became temporary Vale supporters for the day, offering enthusiastic, vocal encouragement to the Vale senior side from the stand. Stockport were not expecting that. 

Referee Mr Beveridge blew his whistle, and the early impetus was claimed by Stockport. They assumed both possession and impetus, pressing into the Vale 22 and denying the home side any clear avenues of escape.

The first try went over the line in the left corner, and the second to the right of the posts. Neither were converted and when the Vale managed to reach the Stockport posts, flanker Tom Miller crossed the line to open the Vale's account. Stand-off Jamie Antcliffe converted, narrowing the gap to an encouraging three points.  

Two more tries were notched up by Stockport before the Vale found another gap. Following a high tackle, the resulting penalty allowed Antcliffe to launch a high ball into space on the Stockport 22.

Quickest to respond, the versatile Eddie Abdelghafar darted through to burn off the chasing defenders. He gathered the stray ball without hesitation and sprinted over the line to score to the left of the posts. Half time arrived with the score at 14 - 22 to the chaps from Greater Manchester, and all eventualities remained possible. 

The Vale made some changes at half time, bringing on both seasoned and emerging contributors. Dokter, Bradshaw and Halliday made their collective presence felt, but it was the lively forward-and-back pairing of Bolton and Abdelghafar who were the Vale's standard-bearers. Despite valiant efforts, Vale were unable to stem the Stockport momentum, More tries rained in, and by the three-quarter mark, the game was out of reach for the Vale. Positivity remained and a late push brought the Vale into range. Concerted forward play enabled Josh Sutcliffe to find the crucial space to touchdown in the left corner. 

Stockport were worthy winners, but the Vale still had their phases of excellence. Notable performances came form the newcomers to senior rugby, showing a glimpse of what is to come in future seasons. The Vale A Team's season has, as with the First XV, fizzled out with no grand finale. With other fixtures yet to be calculated, a provisional third place finish is not to be sniffed at. Captain James Hesketh has a team to be proud of. 

Team:    R. Skelton, J. Hesketh, G. Oyston, I. Thornton, J. Sutclifffe, T. Miller, B. Keenen, E. Abdelghafar, O. Wilson-Sheridan, J. Antcliffe, T. Fox, N. Allen, A. Bolton, L. Trowse, H. Dodge.    Reps: H. Dokter, J. Mitton, K. Sharples, J. Bradshaw, M. Halliday. 


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