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Valiant Vale of Lune beat Wilmslow

The Vale 1st team observing a minute's silence before the Wilmslow game, in honour of Vale stalwart Dave Hodgson who died this week.  Photo by Tony North.

MATCH REPORT: Vale of Lune 29 - Wilmslow 0.

The sun peeped through the clouds at the immaculate pitch at Powder House Lane, then decided it wasn't needed. Dry and windless conditions would be acceptable. 

Having lost to Wilmslow in November, the Vale of Lune 1st XV were as keen to redress that issue as they were to gain league points. The visitors in light-blue had not fared well in the interim period.

The Vale's recent selection problems were abated with the inclusion of Olly Jacques and Billy Swarbrick, but a full range of options remained elusive. In the forwards, there was a plethora of front-row players, many playing out of position. 

Initial impetus came from the Vale, taking the play to the Wilmslow half and keeping them on their back foot. A poor clearance kick allowed winger Harrison Dodge to gather and set up another attack. Jack Ayrton emerged with the ball and sprinted 20 metres to score in the right corner.

A half hour period followed with no score but Wilmslow showed some ambition by pinning the Vale on their own touchline. However, as half time neared, the ball-fumbling ended and the break came.

Skilled handling across the back line on the Wilmslow twenty-two allowed temporary stand-off Olly Jacques to sell an outrageous dummy to the defender and sweep through the gap to touch down with a flourish. 

The second half brought about the usual personnel changes in the forwards. In a pack nearly full of props, it made little difference. At the point where the Vale have conceded vital points in their last two games, they found the resolve to tighten their grip.

In a move which must have had every Vale player in possession of the ball at some point, it was new find George Oyston who claimed the five points. Dodge, Thomas and Jacques combined to tear holes in the Wilmslow defence.

One such advance allowed scrum-half Billy Swarbrick to score. The cherry(and white) on the cake was a try by the big prop Mike Bradshaw. He set up the move, passed, reclaimed the ball and dived over for the points. 

Starved of options, Wilmslow kept what scant possession they had by engineering rolling mauls.

Vale captain Andy Powers was deemed to have brought a maul down illegally and was sent to the bench to think about it. With fourteen men on the field, the Vale were still the dominant force. 

In a game without penalty kicks for goal, Chris Ramwell took on conversion duties with modest success.

Dodge and Thomas proved courageous in the tackle and under high balls. However, it was Olly Jacques, playing out of position, who was at the heart of all that worked for the Vale. A worthy man-of-the-match he proved to be. 

Six league points toward the Vale's NW2 league campaign have elevated them into top half of the table.

Next week, the Vale are Cheshire-bound once more. Altrincham Kersal will play host. If this form continues, AK will have a job on their hands. 

Team:   M. Mount, O. Branford, J. Stevens, G. Oyston, J, Harrison, T. NIcholson, A. Powers, J. Ayrton, B. Swarbrick, O. Jacques, S. Peters, C. Ramwell, J. Fern, H. Dodge, J. Thomas.    Reps:  M. Bradshaw, R. Pillow, J. Bonia. 

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