Match Report: Bowdon 21 – Vale of Lune 16
After sitting it out last Saturday due to the wintry elements, the Vale of Lune first XV hit the road to a thawed but rain-soaked Bowdon in the leafy, Cheshire suburbs.
Having not lost a match for five weeks, the Vale had climbed the NW2 table to a respectable seventh place but, as their opponents occupied second place, and it was always going to be a tough fixture.
Having lost their September clash by only four points, the Vale had something extra to motivate them.
Officially, the game took place in daylight hours, but the heavy cloud impaired visibility throughout.
The match began with a spell of Vale possession in unthreatening areas. It was after 15 minutes of testing each other’s defences that Bowdon opened the scoring with a try to the left of the posts.
The Vale soon hit back with a well-worked forward move to put flanker Sam Walton in place to score. Another Bowdon try followed and it became clear that each side had their own major strength. Bowdon’s defensive tackling was highly effective, whilst the set scrums were under Vale control.
A series of collapsed scrums in the Bowdon 22 metre area resulted in a yellow card for the home side’s prop forward. With numerical advantage, the Vale pressed for the line again but their efforts fell short. In consolation, Alex Briggs kicked a penalty to narrow the gap and the half time score was 14-8 to the Cheshire men.
Personnel changes brought instant energy and points to the Vale. Archie Fowler joined the front row to good effect and the forward onslaught progressed. Breaching the defensive fortress built by the hosts, flanker Matt Field crossed the line to take the Vale to within a point of Bowdon, and it really was anyone’s game at that point. The ensuing stalemate was broken by Bowdon with their third try to create a significant eight-point lead.
Full back Chris Ramwell limped off injured and the Vale backs required some reorganisation. Young guns: Harrrison Dodge, Eddie Abdelghafar and Josh Mitton maintained the Vale back division. Alex Briggs kicked another penalty to put the Vale within reach of the lead but, despite relentless effort and surges of forward play, the final whistle arrived to deny them.
It was a day for the heavy lifters rather than the stylish sprinters. The supremacy of the Vale forwards was acknowledged in a speech by the Bowdon president, who award Vale Man-of-the-Match status to prop Joe Stevens, who he renamed ‘The Dominator!’
Understandably disappointed at ending their winning streak, the Vale had to make do with a single bonus league point for a close scoreline and, by containing Bowdon’s attack and limiting them to only three tries, denying them a bonus league point.
Next week sees the final match of 2023 as the Vale host Crewe and Nantwich at Powder House Lane, K.O. 2.15pm.
Team: G. Oyston, O. Branford, J. Stevens, J. Wallbank, H. Fellows, S. Walton, C. Hall, J. Ayrton (c), B. Swarbrick, J. Silverwood, H. Dodge, A. Briggs, E. Abdelghafar, J. Fern, C. Ramwell. Reps: A. Fowler, M. Field, J. Mitton.