I was really looking forward to the game, so I was really pleased it went ahead, despite the cold snap.
1. Cameron Beech
2. Joe Beckett
3. Monty Weatherby
4. Cieran Leigh
5. Jack Bayes
6. Tom Stock
7. Alex Walker
8. Freddie Godley
9. Thomas Lea
10. Jordan Ravenscroft
11. Jake Meredith
12. James Parry
13. Oli Sorensen
14. Alex Wardle
15. Callum Darlington
Replacements: Christian Dolan, Ollie Taylor, Harry Taylor, Josh Brookes, Luke Pickles, Matt Reel
Scorer(s): Tries: Weatherby (2), O. Taylor, Pickles, Brookes Con(s): Darlington 1
A few cry-offs disrupted the original side I chose for this fixture, and due to the games’ experimental status, it gave us an opportunity to play players in new roles, and to give game-time to players who needed it.
No one expected a walk-over, and Helsby made sure we had to work for everything. Our scrum was inexperienced but strong, with Cameron Beech starting in the front row, Freddie Godley making his first start of the season at No.8 and Cieran Leigh let loose, I was anticipating a tough test for them.
In the backs, we had all sorts of things going on. Jordan Ravenscroft was given a chance to show his guile and skills at Fly-Half, and Callum Darlington had a go at Full-Back, while Oli Sorensen started at Centre with James Parry. James has only been playing for us a few weeks, so it was a tall order to ask him to do something completely different again, but he took up the task magnificently.
It was a cagey opening exchange, but we started to boss things in the forwards, with Monty Weatherby simply scaring Helsby to death, with some great peels and strong direct runs. Joe Beckett was revelling in his groundwork, and took two against the head in the scrum. The backs looked to get loose, and showed their inventive side on a couple of occasions, with Jordan Ravenscroft combining well with Oli Sorensen and then in turn James Parry. After a couple of runs James got his head around his new role and brought in Jake Meredith on the wing, who was unlucky to come up against such a great tackling winger in the Helsby man opposite him. Callum Darlington got into the line really well and added a new dimension to the backs with pace and power.
It was Monty Weatherby who opening the scoring for us, with a trademark bursting run through the opposing forwards after 10 minutes. Callum Darlington duly added the extras. Helsby were still in the game, as illness took hold of a few of our players, Cameron Beech and Joe Beckett returning to the sidelines. This led to Christian Dolan and Ollie Taylor entering the fray, who looked like they had been chained up for a week as they tore into Helsby. Christian set of on a 25 yard run, jinking through 3 or 4 tackles, before feeding Ollie to score a well worked try in the corner.
I was not surprised though, when Helsby showed the character typical of the game of rugby, to get back into the game. They have a good set of backs, and used their wingers well, setting the left winger loose, he out-paced our defence to give the game a more realistic scoreline at half-time of 12-7.
Half-time came at the right time for us, and a couple of personel changes freshened the side up, as Harry Taylor and Matt Reel enjoyed some of the biting cold in the air. This also led to yet another shake-up in the forwards, as Alex Walker completed his re-invention from a back to Prop, coping really well with an established Helsby front row.
Again, the start of the half was close, but further injuries saw the re-introduction of Joe Beckett for the lively Tom Stock who was having a great game, and Cameron Beech for Jack Bayes, who had been winning most of our line-out ball. Monty Wetherby went close once again, just spilling the ball over the line as Helsby’s defence worked their socks off.
With 15 minutes to go, Josh Brookes and Luke Pickles were keen to go, and had different roles than usual, Josh at Full-back and Luke at Centre (looking like Jethro Clampett with no socks!). Again they combined well with the others around them, leading to a try by Luke Pickles, to give us some breathing space in the game.
Helsby’s heads finally started to drop, as Monty Weatherby added to his tally, with a rolling maul and peel to score once again. Josh Brookes, revelling in the extra space in front of him, sliced through the Helsby defence to give the scoreline a kind gloss at the end, to cap another good day for us.
I came away from the game with more questions than answers, with a fair few players acquitting themselves proudly. Monty Weatherby caught the eye in an accomplished performance in the forwards, who all in all had a bizarre, but quality day. In the backs, another forward caught the eye, as James Parry frightened Helsby to death with his powerful running initially and then passed them to death to cap a fine performance.