KUKRI SPORTS.COM ORIGIN SERIES - GAME TWO
Trimpell Sports and Social Club, Out Moss Lane, Morecambe.
The Sun Hotel & Bar MAN OF THE MATCH: Keith Hartlebury
After Lancaster's brave and gritty performance last week they must have turned up for Game 2 at Trimpell full of confidence. After beating Morecambe last week 20-12, Morecambe had to start with a deficit of 8 points which was always going to be a tough task, but with the quality of players in the Morecambe side anything was possible.
There was a buzz about the home squad this week that really fired them up prior to kick off, with a practically an unchanged line-up. Lancaster on the other hand, were forced into making four changes to last week's line up, the most significant of which was the unavailability of influential hooker Jimmy Dyson. However, with the return of Andy Garnett to the fold, and speedster Mark Squires on the opposite wing, Lancaster had every reason to be optimistic, if not over-confident, about their chances.
The first exchanges were fearsome with both packs running with vigour and spirit, but tellingly Morecambe's huge pack gradually started to get on top. As last week, Lancaster's defence was outstanding, holding out for repeat sets of six on their own line in the opening exchanges.
Coach Dave Crow had based his game plan around being patient, not forcing the pass and completing sets of six, and this was done to perfection led by The Sun Hotel & Bar man of the match Keith Hartlebury who constantly marshalled his troops from the front.
A spell of pressure from Lancaster that resulted in a fine break from Scott Telford who glided through the gap created by Andy Helme. Telford drew the full back and released Rob Shaw who had supported well, it looked as if Shaw was in the clear when Dave McVernon came from no where to clatter Shaw to the ground just short of the try line. Morecambe scrambled back well to prevent Lancaster from scoring the opening points.
The first try came after some fantastic work by stand off Olly Austin who picked up a loose pass with one hand and timed his pass superbly to Randal Raines who crashed on to the ball in the corner for the first try of the day.
Unable to convert the try, the score remained 4-0 to Morecambe, and the aggregate lead in favour of Lancaster halved to (also) four points.
Further pressure from the Morecambe forwards once again had the visitors on the backfoot. Drives from Livingstone and Weed set up a good attacking position for the resort men, who took advantage of the situation on the third play of the set for Ollie Austin to slide over the line from short range. After converting his own try, Morecambe had established not only a commanding lead in the game but a narrow lead on aggregate too, one which they were never to relinquish.
Half time saw the usually durable Randal Raines retire from the game with an injury, whilst for Lancaster hard-working prop Rob Shaw was rested in a tactical change.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with Morecambe enjoying most of the possession, whilst terrific Lancaster defence kept the City men just in with a shout of the game.
Powerful forward Liam Hall was held up over the line, and so too experienced full back Bryan Cambidge. The resulting fatigue of constant tackling was always likely to yield points, and McVernon was the lucky recipient of another try to his name after Walker created a gap around the ruck.
Not only were Morecambe proving to be the better team, but as is often the case were also getting the rub of the green too. Morecambe had been held out for five plays and on the fifth tackle option chose to kick to the corner. The ball bounced cruelly for the Lancaster winger and fullback, who watched in despair as Matt Craven collected the ball and gleefully dived over the line.
At 22-nil in the second half, the one thing on everyone's mind was whether Lancaster would be subjected the ultimate humiliation on a Rugby pitch, and that is to be 'nilled' by your nearest and dearest rivals.
It proved not to be, as Lancaster's next set of six proved to be a fruitful foray into the Morecambe half of the field. Guy Richardson used the support runners to full effect to create himself a gap and slide between some bamboozled would be tacklers, saving Lancaster's blushes and giving the team a flicker of hope.
The conversion meant Lancaster needed two converted tries in the last 10 minutes to come within the 8points of Morecambe and snatch victory. The commitment level in the Lancaster team never dipped, despite the clock ticking away on what was inevitably becoming a Morecambe victory.
Dave McVernon came within a whisker of scoring a second try after a 75 yard break upfield was stopped inches short of the whitewash. Bryan Cambidge was first to the dummy half position and inventively dived through McVernon's legs to register the last try of the day, quickly extinguishing any remaining Lancaster hopes, The conversion completed the scoring at 28-6, with Morecambe lifting the cup for the second year in succession with an aggregate score of 40-18.
The biggest crowd for many a year at Trimpell watched as Keith Hartlebury
collected first his 'Sun Hotel & Bar' Man of the Match award from
Matt Jackson of C2 Investments, and then lifted the impressive Origin
trophy presented by guest of honour, Mark Edmondson.