We have many similarities with our Premier league counter-parts Sale Sharks; a grizzled Manager from South Manchester who used to play for Trafford MV, a stunning ground, wonderful support, and season 2012-13’s results!
1. Monty Weatherby
2. Christian Dolan
3. David Hanson-Isasi
4. Ollie Taylor
5. Harry Taylor
6. Tom Stock
7. James Parry
8. Cameron Beech
9. Callum Darlington
10. Luke Pickles
11. Jake Meredith
12. Josh Brookes ©
13. Thomas Lea
14. Matt Reel
15. Jordan Ravenscroft
Replacements: Archie Irlam-Mowbray, Jack Bayes, Joe Beckett, Freddie Godley, Oli Sorensen, Alex Walker, George Morgan
Scorer(s): Tries: Cameron Beech, Matt Reel Con(s):
I was slightly concerned at our lack of rugby since Christmas. We hadn’t trained a great deal, and I knew that Stockport had played their previous rounds’ game the week before so would be more “match fit”, but when we spoke to the boys in the changing room before the game, I knew we had nothing to fear. They were focussed and confident, something we were slightly lacking in the previous round against Marple. We had an epic game against Stockport 2 years ago, so we knew they were a good side.
Our last game against Helsby and our last training session had given us some selection headaches, which is great to have at this stage of the season, but always disappointing for some players. Our forwards looked strong and mobile and the backs looked hungry for tries as we looked to kick start our cup campaign and go a stage better than last year by winning the “Plate” rather than the “Shield”.
Stockport have a small squad, depleted more so by a school trip, so with credit, turned up to play us with 14 players. Rather than see us go through by beating 14 men, I asked for volunteers to play for Stockport, to which George Morgan and Alex Walker reluctantly agreed, for which everyone appreciated.
It was a cold morning and the surface greasy, not the best conditions for our expansive, quick game, so it was important from the off that our forwards showed their stuff. We were not disappointed, as we witnessed our best opening to a game for a long time. We simply rampaged up the pitch, as we looked to just steam-roller Stockport into submission. Our rucking was excellent, and when the time was right we fed Josh Brookes, who was halted just before the line, only for Cameron Beech to seize the opportunity to collect the ball and power over from a couple of yards to open the scoring. With the extras missed, we looked to stretch the lead after the re-start, and the forwards continued to dominate. Our scrummaging was again excellent, even against the head, and with the referee scratching his head as to why, he surmised there must have been something underhand going on, rather than looking at the scrum-half’s back swing!
Our form at this stage was excellent, as our backs looked to get in on the act. Some great positional kicking pressed Stockport deep into their own half, but credit to them; they started to deal well with the onslaught. They were a big set of lads, and our line-out work wasn’t at its best so they started to enjoy some possession aswell. They also started to enjoy some territory, which in a way suited us, as when we broke from deep, our flyers could really go, as James Parry took on the Stockport defence with a 50 yard run, only to be thwarted by a fine last ditch tackle by the Stockport full-back.
The game evened up a little as Stockport grew in confidence, but we were still the better half going in at half-time.
After the break, our concentration was unsettled a little, with a flurry of decisions against us, Stockport got into the game. A couple of unlucky breaks, saw us concede a try, but fortunately far enough away from the posts to only even up the score at 5-5.
The prospect of going out to a draw again loomed, but we rallied again, and our forwards again got a rumble on. From the kick-off, the moment we had been waiting for, for 4 years occurred, as finally we caught the ball catcher in possession and put in a hit, only for the game to be halted for safety purposes. To his credit, the Stockport player got up and dusted himself down, and the game resumed.
We pressed again, and Jordan Ravenscroft started to get into the back line more as we went for the throat. Once such attack, saw is threaten Stockport line again, but again we were repelled by a determined defence including a great tackle by Alex Walker on Luke Pickles (!) and the referee’s whistle. With time ticking by, a scrum on their 22, saw Callum Darlington go blind and feed Matt Reel, who crashed over with a couple of defenders attached to him.
We played the remaining minutes deep into their half, not giving them a sniff of a chance, to record a deserved victory. Stockport were worthy opponants, who played the game in a wonderful spirit and showed their class through-out.
It was great to see a fine level of concentration and determination through-out the players, and the 2 Men of the Match typified both. In the forwards, Christian Dolan was in the mix for everything, and caused Stockport problems (and the referee) the whole game, including one against the head that was in Stockport’s back row! Matt Reel took it for the back, simply due to the quality of the winning try. It’s great to see a winger go over for a try like that, but especially when a winger shows such determination.