Lancaster vs. Blackpool 31st July 2004
LANCASTER 18 BLACKPOOL 30 Totalrl.com Conference Shield
A fantastic game of rugby league that ebbed and flowed from first minute to last was deservedly won by Blackpool Sea Eagles who triumphed by 30-18 at Lancaster University meaning that Lancasters season is now at an end.
Sadly, Lancaster experienced more déjà vu in the second half. Having been winning or drawing in seven of their twelve games this season, an admirable record, the home side contrived to blow the game in the first fifteen minutes of the second period. This section of the game has regularly been the undoing of the team in 2004 and at the 55 minute mark Lancaster were 6-18 down and had Gavin Winder in the sin bin.Classy stand off Dave Evans scored the halfs first points with a try under the posts and Winder was yellow carded for a professional foul on the Blackpool full back Mark Crowther. The referee had no option but to award a penalty try along with the sin binning which meant a simple conversion from under the posts.
There was still time for Lancaster to tie the scores but their final
desperate attack came to nought and Blackpool broke away to score thus
LANCASTER: 1 Gavin Winder, 2 Andy Garnett, 3 Phil Casson, 4 Matt Craven, 5 Mark Squires, 6 Neil Walker, 7 Keith Hartlebury, 8 Dave McVernon, 9 Michael Holmes, 10 Liam Hall, 11 Chris Helme, 12 Liam Butterworth, 13 Russell Birkett. Subs: Colin Bebington, Nick Roberts, Darren Clark, Mark Allan, Ian Hughes
WALKABOUT INNS MAN OF THE MATCH:
The Verdict - Rob Shaw
It's a credit to the commitment of both teams that Saturday's match played out in soaring heat didn't end up with a basketball score at the end, which would have been an entirely understandable result considering the conditions.
Perhaps one of the decisive factors in the final outcome was that whilst waiting for the referee (delayed in traffic) to arrive, Blackpool chose to rest in the shade whilst Lancaster went ahead with an extended pre-match routine.
Once the whistle went, the forwards got on with the business of establishing dominance up the middle with such ferocity you might have thought it was winter with players trying to keep warm. However, as the second half wore on it was the Lancaster forwards who wilted in the heat.
Field position can affect tremendously the psychology of a team. A team on the attack deep within opposition territory is rarely short of eager runners to take the ball up, whereas when bringing the ball out from your own try line eager volunteers are often in short supply. On Saturday, the Lancaster forwards gave away penalty after penalty, gifting Blackpool field positions that they have probably not enjoyed a lot of this year.
With the vocal Blackpool support giving the referee assistance at every opportunity in spotting Lancaster infringements, the Blackpool players, unsurprisingly and sniffing the scent of an upset, had their tails up and ran with passion not seen in the previous encounter between the clubs.
Despite the lack of possession, Lancaster just about kept pace with the game through individual brilliance rather than great teamwork. The final nail in the coffin was hammered in by the ref who allowed a Blackpool try to stand from a blatant forward pass. Even the Blackpool coaching staff were cursing the pass until they realised the referee had awarded the try.
But lets not make excuses. The real reason why we lost was a lack of discipline, which we have only ourselves to blame for. Mistakes by the referee are always going to happen, and over the length of a season there are no doubt as many which favour us as there are those which have gone against us, as in the last couple of matches. If Lancaster had not spurned so much possession on Saturday, we would have had the game tied up before half time, this would have made the odd mistake or two by the officials irrelevant to the final result.
So that's the end of the 2004 season. A quick check at the stats reveals
an average score of 21-32 against us for the year. Disappointing, but
compared to last year's campaign where the average result was 16-38 against
us, it does indicates that we have been a lot more competitive in both
attack and defence this year. I will be happy if at this time next year
we are reflecting on a season where we have shown the same improvement
North West Division Summary
Lancaster 18 V 30 Blackpool (Blackpool to play Crewe Wolves)