Mistakes punish luckless Lancaster

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Photo by Gaz Houghton

UCLAN  54-3 Lancaster

The Lancaster men’s Rugby Union thirds, slumped to their second defeat of the league season this past Wednesday in a 54-3 beating at the hands of UCLAN seconds.

Handing errors and an inability to match the physicality of the travelling team cost the thirds dearly, as they found themselves playing most of the game within their own half.

A series of knock-ons in the Lancaster half, marred the opening stages of the game.  Two successive knock-on’s by UCLAN near the five metre line was the only thing that kept the away team from scoring.

The ever looming try came in the 13th minute; UCLAN’s prop broke through the Lancaster defence only to offload to his flanker at the last second. The conversion was added to give UCLAN a 7-0 lead.

Lancaster responded in quick succession with a penalty to narrow the score line. However, several mistakes and handling errors meant the home side continued to struggle to get out of their own half. This began to hurt Lancaster even more when UCLAN’s centre broke down the left flank of the pitch to touch down for UCLAN’s second try of the game. The conversion was added to bring the score to 14-3 with twenty minutes gone.

UCLAN kept coming; a further attack down the left side was thwarted as the player was tackled into touch. It did not take long however for UCLAN to get their third try, the attack coming again down the left side of the pitch. The try came when Lancaster’s full back Mark Arnfield, decided to opt for a clearance kick instead of touching it down behind his own try line for the twenty two dropout. The kick was gathered easily by the UCLAN attack with their scrum half managing to run the ball through the dazed Lancaster defence and under the posts for the try. The conversion was added to bring the score to 21-3 in the 25th minute.

Lancaster fortunes failed to improve towards the end of the first half, a fourth UCLAN try came in the 36th minute after a break down the right side of the pitch. A yellow card for Lancaster’s George Woolard for entering the ruck from an offside position and kicking the ball away, struck another hammer blow to the home team before the break.

The second half began as the first half ended, with UCLAN putting the pressure back on the Lancaster defence. An attacking UCLAN scrum near the five metre line showed signs of danger for the home side, until the resulting attacking move was intercepted by Lancaster.

UCLAN looked to have scored again when their winger broke through the Lancaster line to touch down in the 47th minute. However, the referee deemed that the ball had been dropped on the line after a saving tackle from the home side.

UCLAN did not have to wait long for their next try when their flanker broke through the Lancaster line. Poor tackling cost the home side dearly at UCLAN brought the score to 33-3 in the 49th minute.

From the 50th minute onwards, it was clear there was no way back for the home side as their defence began to crumble at the hands of the vastly superior UCLAN backs. A breakaway try in the 63rd minute, saw UCLAN run the ball in from their own twenty two after a turnover. The Lancaster defence looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights and some good support play from the UCLAN runners saw them trundle the ball in to increase the score to 40-3.

Lancaster continued to soldier on despite the score, yet were let down by an ever increasing handling error count. The final nail in the coffin came in the closing minutes of the game when UCLAN scored twice, their first coming once  again from the counter attack.

The whistle blew with the  final score at 54-3 to UCLAN.

Lancaster will be hugely disappointed with their performance out on the field, (especially their error count) but can take some comfort from the fact they were beaten by the top of the league team in a convincing display. A notable mention should also be made of Lancaster’s man of the match; full back Mark Arnfield . If it had not been for some key tackles by this man, it is likely the score could have been much greater.

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