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Lancaster’s Rugby Union 1sts signed off their BUCS season with a disappointing defeat to lowly placed University of Manchester 3rds, killing off any hopes of gaining promotion.
Prior to the game in week 20 Lancaster were placed prettily atop the Northern Conference 2A with a realistic chance of being promoted. Whilst this was never truly in their hands (Liverpool John Moores needed only to win their remaining games to clinch top spot), they were in confident mood ahead of their final games following an impressive win against Liverpool JMU.
If JMU were to slip up, Lancaster hoped to be right on their heels by accumulating maximum points from their last two games. Sadly though, the heights of Northern Conference 1A will have to wait another year as the men in red crashed to two defeats in their remaining league games.
In light of the opening five minutes with Manchester 3rds, you’d have been forgiven for thinking Lancaster would easily maintain the pressure on rivals JMU, as they stormed to a 5-0 lead via a Wilf Whittle try.
Manchester quickly found their feet and seized control of a game that should never really have been in their hands. Despite Lancaster’s promising attacking play, they let themselves down with a number of defensive errors that ended up proving the difference between the sides.
By half time, the away team found themselves 18-5 to the good and Lancaster looked a side under immense pressure. While they desperately tried to find a foothold in the game a number of misplaced passes were thrown meaning that Manchester always looked dangerous on the counter.
The second half passed largely without incident and attractive play was distinctly hard to come by. The game turned into a scrappy affair by the end of the second half, in which Lancaster managed to rectify their first half performance but sadly could do nothing to alter the damage already done to the score line. Connor Liggitt added the away team’s second try of the game to see Lancaster suffer their fifth loss of the season 10-18.
Despite the disappointment of defeat, Lancaster captain Dave Wrightson was defiant about his team’s performance, choosing to focus on the positives on show. He said: “It was a good effort from everyone. We just didn’t turn up and a number of injuries and basic errors on the field cost us today.”
“We’ve had a fantastic season pushing for promotion. It looks like we’ve possibly blown it here today. But it’s been hard for us to find balance, especially with the huge fresher intake at the beginning of the season, players like Tom Williams and Greg Smith who have come in and done well”.
With new faces coming in and old faces checking out, it was hit and miss whether Lancaster would prove to be league pace setters or be left behind as extra luggage in a league of promotion hopefuls.
With Roses just around the corner there is still much to play for in terms of Lancaster’s achievements for this season, as the reds look to one of their most anticipated fixtures against the enemy from across the Pennines: York.
It is important that Lancaster take all that has been good about their season and ensure that these things become the focus in their preparation for this year’s competition on home soil.
Wrightson complimented key players as well as the whole team for their work throughout the season. He said: “Anthony Coulson has been fantastic in his new role. The team has bonded really well despite all the imports and exports.”
“I believe we can turn York over. We’ve certainly got the ability, and whilst it will be very competitive in both the 15’s and 7’s games there’s no reason why we can’t come away with victory if we play to our best.”
Lancaster will be doing all they can to make sure they end the season with something worth shouting about, and victory against the old enemy will always be priceless.