Lancaster Vs North Wales 10th July 2004
LANCASTER 46 NORTH WALES COASTERS 12 Totalrl.com
RICHARD DE LA RIVIERE
Lancaster played their last game at Giant Axe in the 2004 season and signed off in style by beating the North Wales Coasters with ease and, after having finally been awarded the points from the postponed game at Blackpool, now sit in fifth position out of eight.
The home side stuck largely with the players that performed so well in difficult circumstances at Widnes the previous week but they also welcomed back Keith Hartlebury into the scrum half role. Nick Roberts also came in for his first start onto the wing and Gavin Winder replaced the injured Martin Pike at full back.
It was Hartlebury who fed Dave McVernon from a scrumbase in the tenth minute of the game in a move that led to the first try. McVernon isolated the defending right centre and fed Mark Squires who, from seventy metres out, burned past his opposite winger to score under the posts. Andy Garnett converted for a 6-0 lead and a penalty goal soon after extended the lead to eight points.
Hartlebury and McVernon combined once more to good effect soon after. Standing at first receiver, Hartlebury cleverly threw a well disguised inside pass to put McVernon through a gap and in typical fashion the captain beat the full back and raced to the posts from the half way line. Garnett converted again and Lancaster were in a rare position; leading14-0.
Hartlebury again showed what Lancaster had been missing during his three week absence when, after good lead up work by Matt Craven, a grubbing kick to the corner found Garnett who collected to touch down near the touchline. The home side went to the break leading 18-0.
The second half was no different to the first as Lancaster continued to pile forward. North Wales made the task easier for the home side as they conceded a stream of penalties for foul play and for successive weeks Lancaster saw an opponent sent off when Craig Hillington attempted to headbutt Russell Birkett. Liam Hall, who had also been on the receiving end of high tackles and punches burrowed his way over from dummy half to extend the lead and, soon after, the big prop sent Garnett to the line for his second try with a short ball that a top class half back would have been proud of. Garnett now leads Squires at the top of the try scoring charts by six to five.
North Wales continued to press and were soon rewarded for their efforts when their best player Alan Clare scored under the posts but in astonishing fashion they had another man sent off as their prop, Craig Hammonds, celebrated the try by punching Rob Shaw. Soon after, North Wales were attacking again but this time a misplaced pass was intercepted by Matthew Walton who ran eighty metres to the tryline. Long distance tries have been a feature of Lancasters season and Waltons effort was as good as any and will provide him with a home debut to remember.
Matthew Craven, now playing at full back, then contributed to the scoring. A seemingly innocuous hit up in his own half saw him burst through the attempted tackles of Australian player coach Paul Roberts and captain David Gray and eat up the remaining ground with ease to cap another impressive display. Gareth Pierce responded for the plucky visitors.
There was still time for Russell Birkett to sell an outrageous dummy on the half way line and feed the supporting Andy Garnett who in turn sportingly turned down the chance to register Lancasters first ever hat trick to give the ball back to the man of the match Birkett after he had crossed the line. Phil Casson converted to bring the curtain down on Lancasters programme of home fixtures for the 2004 season.
* Lancaster RLFC would like to thank Lancaster City FC for the use of the Giant Axe and wish them well for the forthcoming football season
WALKABOUT INNS MAN OF THE MATCH: Russell Birkett
MATCH SPONSOR: The Waterwitch
* Lancaster RLFC would like to thank Lancaster City FC for the use of the Giant Axe and wish them well for the forthcoming football season.
LANCASTER : 1 Gavin Winder, 2 Mark Squires, 3 Phil Casson, 4 Matt
Craven, 5 Nick Roberts, 6 Andy Garnett, 7 Keith Hartlebury, 8 Dave McVernon,
9 Greg Sykes, 10 Ian Hughes, 11 Rob Shaw, 12 Brian Birkett, 13 Russell
Liverpool Buccaneers 22 v 38 Chester Wolves
WIDNES SAINTS won for the eighth time at plucky BLACKPOOL SEA EAGLES, Paul Kirwan setting the tone by ghosting over after good approach work from Mark Keenan and Graham Buck. Paul Adkin posted a penalty for the hosts in the 6th minute but tries to Danny Badham and man of the match Kevin Buck put Widnes in control. Kieran Walker and Mike Lamb who went 60 metres combined to send in Carl Leach for the first of his three tries.
Badham did his customary barge over for the second of his hat trick before Birmingham, Kev and Graham Buck and Leach combined to put in McKinnon for an excellent try to give the visitors a massive 32-2 half time lead. Keenan created havoc from the re-start and Tony Kirwan put Leach through to score.
Ever improving hooker Buck scored his second when bravely diving through a ruck of feet. Blackpool enjoyed their best spell, Duncan Nicholson and Phil Clarke crossing before Lamb again ripped the defence apart to feed Leach for the try of the game.
BOLTON LE MOORS stayed in contention for top spot but needed all their resolve in the last five minutes to deny CREWE WOLVES. Partrick O'Grady with a brace of touchdowns was Bolton's best, Ryan Kelly, Mark Brindle and Simon Briggs their other try scorers. Pete Leonard was constantly involved for the Wolves, kicking four goals including converting tries by Mark Martins, John Brotherton and Timothy Stewart.
LANCASTER eased past NORTH WALES COASTERS, racing to a 32-0 half time lead, Gareth Pearce and Alan Clare replying for the visitors.
The View From The Axe - Rob Shaw
Saturday's impressive win was a long time in coming, and a thoroughly deserved reward for the players and in particular the longsuffering coaching staff. As coach Kevin McGuffog said before the game, 'It's been a long time between drinks'. It certainly has.
It might not have been quite so long if Blackpool had attempted to play their fixtures on the correct date. However, in a very profitable weekend for Lancaster rugby, that particular distasteful affair has at last been put to bed with Lancaster being belatedly awarded the points for the game which never took place. 4pts richer, Lancaster are now guaranteed at least 6th place in the league, and possibly as high as 5th if we can overcome Crewe next week.
The game itself was a bad tempered affair which left a bad taste in the mouth. The Welshmen certainly didn't come to Lancaster with the intention of playing rugby; it was clear from the outset that the referee was going to have a tough afternoon on the discipline front and not to mention the impossible task of keeping up with the Lancaster speedsters' long range tries.
One of the key factors in the victory was the discipline throughout the Lancaster team, which, despite extreme provocation, held firm throughout to ensure the ref's penalties were awarded in our favour. The Lancaster props are no shrinking violets themselves - in the past we have suffered with a lack of discipline but thankfully on Saturday this was the Coaster's sin.
Mathew Walton couldn't have asked for a much better start to his Lancaster career. Last week against Widnes he showed glimpses of what he was capable of and this week he delivered the goods with a spectacular 90 yard try with one of his first touches in his home debut.
The influx of some quality backs has made a massive difference to the temperament of this year's team. Matt Craven, Mark Squires and Andy Garnett seem to put in man of the match performances every week but keep being upstaged by the young Russell Birkett who, with his roving role round the team, can seemingly do no wrong at the moment.
If we can take this confidence into our next game (Crewe, away 2.30PM
KO) then we have a real chance of finishing the season on a real high
before we enter the playoffs.