Lancaster Vs Chester 19th June 2004
The view from Lancaster
LANCASTER 16 CHESTER WOLVES 44
Lancaster were taught a rugby league lesson by former champions Chester Wolves on saturday. In a repeat of Lancaster's first home game from last season, the Wolves emerged victorious with a 44-16 scoreline.
Lancaster were forced into a number of changes. Keith Hartlebury and Liam Butterworth are now abroad. Mark Squires, Greg Sykes and Randall Raines were injured. Also, in the first half, impressive centre Matt Craven was helped from the field injured but was replaced by impressive newcomer Nicholas Roberts.
The key man for Chester was Peter Bowden. The stand off crossed for a hat trick of tries and he was ably supported by ex pro half back Matt Drinkwater as well as the ever dangerous trio of Curphey brothers; Paul, Stephen and Duncan.
For Lancaster, Russell Birkett was outstanding again. The teenager is revelling in his new role in the centre of the field and has been a menace to each of Lancaster's opponents in 2004. Scrum half Steve Hartle was welcomed back to the side. He could have had a hat trick. He came close to scoring in the first half, scored in the second half and shortly after he lost the ball over the try line.
After another bad start which saw them 18-0 down in as many minutes with poor ball control once again a factoy, Lancaster enjoyed a period of possession in Chesters territory. Rob Shaw crossed the tryline but was denied a try as the referee blew for offside against Chester as he was reaching out to score. Such a bad non use of the advantage law is indicative of Lancasters luck in recent week. Lancaster were soon to enjoy eighteen consecutive tackles on the Chester line but formidable defence kept them out. Typically they were punished in the traditional way as Chester added two late tries in the half.
28-0 down at half time, Lancaster came good in the second half period in which the remaining points were shared. In addition to Hartle's try, Gavin Winder collected a pass from the excellent Rob Shaw to register his second try of the season and, late in the game, Phil Casson escaped the clutches of two defenders to score outwide. The score at this stage was 32-16 but two late tries to Chester gave the visitors a slightly flattering 44-16 win.
Lancaster now have a week away from the totalrl.com Rugby League Summer Conference as they compete in the International York Nines competition. They will play Russian champions Strella Kazan, Les Hussards de Paris and Glasgow Bulls in what is sure to be a memorable weekend.
After that the club faces up to Widnes Saints, North Wales Coasters and
Crewe Wolves as the team looks to secure a mid table finish in the division.
LANCASTER: 1 Martin Pike, 2 Simon Ledwick, 3 Phil Casson, 4 Matt
TRIES: Gavin Winder, Steve Hartle, Phil Casson
GOALS: Andy Garnett (2)
WALKABOUT INNS MAN OF THE MATCH: Russell Birkett
NORTH WEST LEAGUE SUMMARY
Lancaster 16 v 44 Chester Wolves
In the big battle at the top of the table, WIDNES SAINTS pulled off a convincing win at previously unbeaten BOLTON LE MOORS to go top, almost doubling the points conceded to date by the RLC Shield holders. Paul Borg, Waitangi Halatuna and Danny Badham put the Saints in early control, Dave Ogden crossing for Bolton. Badham with his second, Chris Freeman and Neil Burke with a superb solo effort made it 6-34 by the break. Halatuna and Andy Benson added to that at the start of the second half.
Three tries from stand off Paul Boden were the foundation for CHESTER WOLVES victory at LANCASTER. Paul Curphey grabbed a double for the visitors, his brother Duncan, Jon Welch and Bob Merrill their other try scorers. Gavin Pinder, Steve Hartle and Phil Casson crossed for the hosts for whom Russell Birkett was a stand out. LIVERPOOL BUCCANEERS were pushed all the way by determined NORTH WALES COASTERS' best performance of the season. Pete Jones put the visitors ahead, Mark Yates and Kyle Grayden replying before Coasters scrum half Dave Gray bagged the first of his two scores. Dan Hodgson and Keith Armstrong made it 20-12 at the break, the pair each picking up their second at the start of the second period. James Bellis kept the visitors in the hunt; Mark Webster and Andy Bennett swapped tries before Dale Christie sealed the points.
A superb Martin Pallas try set BLACKPOOL SEA EAGLES on their way but CREWE WOLVES hit back to take the spoils. Richard Smith and Paul Flannery put the visitors ahead, Phil Gamble's long range effort leveling. Two tries from Mark Roberts and another to Flannery put Crewe in charge, Baz Tucker's debut try narrowing the gap. Prop Damian Duncan and Flannery with his hat trick score tied up victory.
The View from the Axe - Rob Shaw
The unavailability of a number of key players reeked havoc with this weeks line up. Holidays, work commitments and injuries forced several players to play out of position, and some of the more inexperienced members of the squad were handed opportunities to demonstrate their skills.
The unsettled Lancaster team paid the price for giving the former champions an early, unassailable lead. Missed tackles on the Wolves centre Paul Curphey and the inability to cope with the step of their stand-off proved costly as Lancaster fell into the trap of conceding tries in consecutive sets, without even seeing the ball.
Defensively, our frailties were exposed ruthlessly. A number of tries were scored from elementary mistakes such as leaving a gap in the defensive line by either rushing up too soon or by not keeping up with the defensive line.
On attack, spells of pressure from Lancaster at either side of half time gave the crowd hope of a comeback, but the neutral would probably say that by this point in the game Chester were perhaps taking their foot off the gas.
We have a welcome break from league action this week, as we once again have the opportunity to compete in the International York 9s. The quality of the opposition we will be facing is quite frightening really, Strella Kazan, the Russian champions are of undoubted quality and will be the toughest opponents Lancaster have ever faced. The other teams we play are from Paris and Glasgow and are more unknown quantities but will still be tough nuts to crack. Like last year, to qualify for the main tournament (the Fairfax Cup) we will need to get at least a victory or maybe two under our belts in the group stages. In addition to qualifying for the main tournament, it also qualifies the club for automatic entry into the tournament the following year, a massive motivation in itself.