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Vale of Lune overrun by league champions Birkenhead Park

Match report: Vale of Lune 0 Birkenhead Park 67

At the close of the season, at least for the Vale, with all of the spoils and spoons already determined, this looked like a game with little for each club to aspire to. Unfortunately, nobody told the men from Merseyside.

They played as though their reputations were at risk, and after delivering an 80 minute masterclass at Powder House Lane, their stock went even higher. 

The Vale were without so many regular first team players that the selection became a patchwork of known skill sets. Many playing in unfamiliar positions and some still yet to fully shake off old injuries, they played with heart and soul, but they were up against a team in the ascendency. Everything they tried came good and the Vale found it an uphill task to contain such well-placed confidence.     

BP caught the Vale unaware in the first minute with a try on the left. High winds made any airborne activity difficult, and the conversion kicks were a lottery. Similarly, lineouts were troublesome for both teams. Play was kept firmly on the ground, which showed the strengths of the visitors over those of the Vale. The Vale's normally productive lineout/maul tactic was denied them throughout. 

Frustrations were evident in the Vale's response. Al Crookall was deemed to have committed a high tackle, and a trip to the bin followed. During the period of imbalance, two tries were registered, each one the result of stretching the Vale's defences. Half time came with the score at 27 points to nil to the league champions.  

The Vale maintained their focus and pressed on with purpose. Some promising passages of play ensued, but the try-line remained out of reach. To break down a team on such a rich seam of form could sap all resolve, but the Vale never gave in, chasing every loose ball and contesting every close-combat exchange. Fierce tackling from wingers Harrison Dodge and Travis Bell, held off the storm, but only temporarily, each time. The tries rained in as though the pitch was on a slope. 

The Vale President, Dave Bagot, congratulated Birkenhead Park on their success and wished them well in the NW1 league next season. For the Vale, it has been a season of good spells followed by poor ones. Three wins- three losses, then four wins - four losses. The final position in the table is inevitably somewhere in the middle. 

Scoreline aside, there were some encouraging signs. Long term injuries to Matt Mount and Harrison Dodge seem to be behind them, and new boys Robbie Skelton and Travis Bell showed promise for future selection. Although the league season is done, the Vale have a Papa John's Cup fixture at home next Saturday against old rivals Aspatria. A chance to put this result aside and show their true talents once again.  


Team: J. Stevens, M. Mount, G. Oyston, A. Foxcroft, J. Harrison, H. Fellows, S. Wallbank, E. Abdelghafar, J. Batty, C. Ramwell, H. Dodge. A. Crookall, D.Leighton, T. Bell, J. Fern.    Reps:   J. Silverwood, D. Rainford, R. Skelton.


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