Match report: Sedgley Park 3rds 33 - Vale of Lune 3rds 5.
The Manchester rain gave way to some autumn sunshine as the only Vale side with a fixture this Saturday arrived at Sedgley Park.
The Vale of Lune Vikings, so often affected by selection issues in the higher teams, were again made to adapt their approach at the last minute. They have, over many years, become accustomed to this, and their bond and competitive ethic remains undiminished.
The Vale side was made up of strong, experienced forwards and quick, youthful backs. It fell to scrum half Lee Starkey to connect those two disparate elements.
Their opponents were well-drilled and used to each others' qualities, whereas the Vale were shown to be unfamiliar with their own combined potential.
Through experience and communication, the lineouts were largely under Sedgley control.
The Vale were solid in the set scrums but Sedgley Park, playing in maroon and yellow, contested for the loose ball in greater numbers. This was soon turned to their advantage and the scoreboard served to prove it..
Sedgley repeatedly pressed the Vale defence in their own 22 metre area, stretching the young Vale backs and striking forth through the gaps they had engineered.
The adaptable Sam Peters, playing at stand off, put boot to ball effectively to clear the lines, but the onslaught was only temporarily abated.
The few Vale visits to the Sedgley five metre line ended in fumbled possession. Nevertheless, they remained undaunted and positive. Half time arrived with the score at 19-0 to the home side.
Personnel changes brought some additional energy. Replacements Ben Wallace, Mariane Fenol and Robbie Martin took to the field and the Vale gained possession in favourable positions.
Starkey's astute ball distribution set off a chain reaction which ended in full back Finlay Swindlehurst scoring his first try at senior level.
A memorable moment for him, but it was to be a mere diversion from the superiority of the home side. They ran in three tries in each half and the errors they made were few.
Referee Vicki Offland maintained order with authority and clear communication. Her style and willingness to let the game flow was appreciated by players and supporters alike.
Notable Vale performances came from centre combination of Eddie Abdelghafur and Joe Summers. It was number eight Callum Hall who stood out as the Vale's best player on the day.
The resplendently hirsute Vikings team manager Paul Peters acknowledged his team's efforts and praised their 'never-say-die' positivity.
Next week, the Vikings play away at Kirkby Lonsdale as the Vale first team play host to Kirkby's first team in the NW2 league.
Team: G. Summers, M. Davenport, M. Mount, P. Rowlands, B. Cooper, P. Scott, E. Marchment, C. Hall, L. Starkey, S. Peters, D. Penrice, E. Abdelghafar, J. Summers, M. Bower, F. Swindlehurst. Reps: M. Fenol, R. Martin, B. Wallace.