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Vale of Lune notch storming win over Isle of Man side

Andy Powers with the ball for the Vale. Photo by Tony North

Match report: Vale of Lune 37 Douglas I.O.M. 14.

The skies were grey, the referee wore blue and 15 Manxmen turned out in yellow.

The cherry and white of the Vale of Lune 1st XV topped off the range, and brought a vivid array of colourful rugby for an eager home crowd at Powder House Lane. 

Since their last clash in September, the form of the Douglas side has improved and all options were open from the outset. The Vale asserted themselves with gusto, launching the ball deep into Douglas territory and keeping it there. Douglas were under siege for the first five minutes. they managed to clear their lines but only as far as Chris Ramwell, who darted through the Douglas defence to put right winger Hayden Mills in for a try. Ramwell converted and the theme of the afternoon was established.  

Douglas worked hard to press forward but lacked consistency. A high clearance ball was fumbled by a Douglas man and the Vale attackers were all over him like wasps on jam. Second row Joe Wallbank emerged with the ball and flew down the right wing for a 15 yard power-dash to score in the corner. The third Vale try again exploited weaknesses in the Douglas left flank. Stand-off Damon Hall burst through onto a loose ball, teased the Douglas full-back into committing to the tackle prematurely, and scrum-half Jacob Thomas benefitted. He took the pass at top speed and scored his try with panache. 

The spectre of injury descended and took the wind out of the Vale's sails. Prop Mike Bradshaw went to ground and play stopped for his treatment. He was stretchered off with a suspected fractured leg. 

Centre Sam Peters got his name on the score sheet with a solo run from the half way line. Looking around for support that was not close enough for a pass, Peters dogded tackles with great confidence to score. Soon after, winger Jordan Fern broke the mould by scoring his try in the left corner. To show the team's versatility, Hall fired a drop goal over for a 32-0 lead at half time. 

In the second half, Douglas found the resolve to assert themselves. Their forward play came together and, in that sphere, they gave some resistance. This effort was rewarded with two converted tries. The home crowd grew tense. The Vale's recent trend of letting a lead slip in the latter stages had made the faithful nervous. Reassurance came from captain Andy Powers, who added to his imperious performance at lineouts, in tackles and in loose play by his marshalling of several rolling mauls toward the Douglas try-line. Powers crossed the line to score and put the game beyond doubt. 

Six tries by six different Vale players, Ramwell's boot consistently on target and a team enjoying what they do. These elements gave the supporters a splendid afternoon, although the injury to Bradshaw took away some of the shine.   

Of the many candidates, the top performing Vale man was Andy Powers. Next week sees another home fixture, this time against Anselmians. It will be the annual 'past-players day' and a good crowd of familiar faces is expected. Kick-off moves back to 3pm. 

Team:   G. Oyston, O. Branford, J. Stevens, J. Harrison, J. Wallbank, A. Powers, J. Ayrton, T. Nicholson, J. Thomas, D. Hall, S. Peters, A. Bolton, J. Fern, C. Ramwell, H. Mills.   Reps:  L. Evans, H, Dodge, M. Bradshaw. 

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