Liverpool prove too much for the Lancaster defence

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Photography by Alex Rastall

Lancaster 8 – 22 Liverpool

Lancaster men’s rugby union firsts were forced onto the defensive by the Liverpool firsts last Wednesday afternoon.

Liverpool started the match into a solid Lancaster defensive line and even with a few driving mauls from their opponents, the Cats managed to overturn possession thanks to a scrum in their favour.

Despite losing the ball to Liverpool, the away team were challenged by some solid tackling by their counterparts and possession was, once again, overturned. Lancaster full back Tim Holloway followed this up by booting the ball out of attacking danger and met touch just short of the half-way line.

However, the away team were awarded a scrum following a catch from Holloway which was knocked forward when the ball was delivered back to him. Liverpool capitalized upon this most by driving over from a ruck to score a try. The kick was unconverted and so the score sat at 5-0.

Lancaster restarted play but the kick went straight to touch. The Cats regained possession via a misplaced Liverpool kick and Lancaster’s Edouard Whyte broke through the opposition’s defence.

Nevertheless, the attack was unsuccessful and ultimately led to a period of back-and-forth play when several kicks from both sides failed to find touch.

Lancaster then had two prime opportunities from which to impact. The first, fifteen minutes into the game, was from an overturned scrum alongside some impressive passing and pace from the Lancastrian full back and wings. The second, moments later, occurred when the home side fly-half managed to sprint his way upfield. In both instances, sloppy passes and a knock on meant that such opportunities were not made the most out of.

However, Lancaster eventually found the try line following a Liverpool line-out deemed “not straight enough” by the referee. A well composed Lancaster scrum allowed number 14 to deliver the ball over the line on the 25-minute mark.

The conversion was missed but the deficit had been closed and remained so for the rest of the first half.

Nonetheless, Liverpool were quick to respond to the equal scoreboard. Within 30 seconds of the start of the second half, the opposition immediately attacked and obtained a seemingly easy try. Although another conversion was missed, the opposition had re-established the five-point difference that the home-side had worked hard to close throughout a majority of the first half.

The Cats were not defeatist about this. Liverpool won the line-out but Lancaster immediately imposed pressure on the maul, consequently driving them back and took possession of the ball. What followed was an impressive kick to touch which found itself deep in the opposition’s own half.

Lancaster won the line-out and were awarded a penalty when Liverpool illegally came in at the side of the ruck. Unfortunately, this period of good rugby was wasted by a knock on.

With 52 minutes on the clock, Liverpool’s number 12 was sin-binned for ten minutes for illegalities in the ruck. Holloway attempted the ambitious penalty kick which, despite the power of it, went wide of the posts.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before Lancaster were able to capitalise upon the one-man advantage as Liverpool conceded another penalty, allowing the Cats to slot the ball between the posts in the first successful kick of the game.

With the score now standing at 10-8, Lancaster looked to pursue goal-kicking further. At 63 minutes, Lancaster’s number 11 kicked for goal but again it went wide.

What followed was a period of play in which Liverpool strained slightly under the pressure. After a scrum in their favour, Lancaster were able to win back possession, however just as the Cats tried to attack, Liverpool, once again, came in at the side of a ruck. Even the referee warned that there were “far too many penalties” from the Liverpool side.

Whyte then proceeded on the attack and impressively managed to stay up on his feet despite heavy tackles. However, a knock-on from the Cats resulted in a very near Liverpool try success. A scrum, five metres from the opposition’s try line and with just nine minutes left on the clock, Liverpool were able to execute an attack and their number nine broke through Lancaster’s defence to make it 15-8.

This try was closely followed by another Liverpool score when they managed to kick and run onto it, resulting in a further try in the corner. The conversion was successful and the score difference increased to 14 points.

The final score read 22-8, which due to silly errors was probably well justified. Holloway stated: “It was an overall good performance from the team considering we were defending for 70 minutes of it. Having been promoted into this new league, we are currently punching above our weight here and still trying to find our feet. The two sloppy tries at the end could have been avoided but that could be down to a lack of fitness training.”

It certainly seemed that the Cats had more to offer than the 22-8 performance and are definitely a team to look out for in the future to see how the team grows together and cuts out the minor mistakes that are currently hindering their performance.

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