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After a magnificent season of six back to back victories, the undefeated streak of the Lancaster Lynx Rugby League team has finally come to an end with a 52-26 cup defeat at the hands of MMU.
The fixture saw league champions Lynx face off against the winners of the BUCS North West 1 league, in a game which was always going to be tough. The home side went into the game with a series of injury problems, but knowing that victory would take them into the semi finals of the cup.
The game began with MMU looking threatening. A vital tackle was needed from Matthew Buckland after MMU slipped through the Lynx line. It was not long before the away side opened the scoring after two missed tackles from Josh Oates and Martin Sutton let MMU through.
The Lynx were quick to respond capitalizing on a knock on near the 20 metre line. Max Brown led the charge with some quick hands by Ben Robertshaw gifting the ball to Dennis Tate who (after a fantastic catch) touched down for the try.
MMU hit back with a breakaway try after some weak defending allowed them to slip through. However, Lynx were hot on their heels and a kick through on the last tackle rewarded the home side with a goal line dropout. Another fantastic kick through by Paul Davies saw the ball bounce off the bottom of the post only to be leaped on by Neil Kilgallon for the try. Robertshaw stepped up to bring the scores level.
With both sides looking very equal in terms of quality and skill, ill discipline on the part of MMU looked to give Lynx a slight edge. However, the home side knew that any more injury problems could seriously damage their chances of victory with Gareth Houghton, Mike Gibson and Vuong Duong all out of the game.
An uncomfortable period ensued when Robert McAllister and Josh Oates were forced off the pitch. Substitute winger Phil Rawcliffe was forced into a high pressure situation. His nerves were all too apparent when he knocked on from the high ball gifting MMU a scrum five metres out. The attacking side used their overlap on the near side to clip through for the try. Fortunately for the home side, the conversion went wide.
Two more MMU tries before half time brought the score to 24-10. Missed tackles were costing the home side dearly with a great performance by the MMU’s centre causing chaos in the Lynx line.
The second half began with a much needed blessing for the Lynx. MMU found themselves down to twelve men when a trip on Danny Myers saw a man sent to the sin bin.
Another pulsating break from the MMU centre saw a desperate tackle by Ben Robertshaw. The Lynx man then saw himself involved in some fantastic play to keep the ball alive which saw Danny Myers bundle over for the try.
With the home side narrowing the gap to a score line of 24-16, everyone knew that a comeback was well within reach. A fantastic last ditch tackle saw Matthew Buckland throw his body on the line to keep MMU out on the right side of the pitch despite the mounting numbers of men on that side.
With the defence beginning to improve and the intensity of the game becoming etched on the face of the men in red and black, some great running by Nathan O’ Connor brought play up to the 20 metre line. The Lynx used their overlap on the left side to work the ball to Josh Oates who crossed over for the try to bring the score to 24-20 with twenty minutes left on the clock.
A long pass out to the MMU winger resulted in another try, but this took little away from the belief that was mounting amongst the home side that this was now their game to lose. With thirteen minutes left on the clock, Adam Lacey returned to the pitch only to be rewarded immediately with a try from short range, closing the gap to two points with 10 minutes left.
As the intensity of the game reached fever pitch, both sides became desperate for the victory that would take them into the semi finals. Sadly for the Lynx, it was not to be. A knock on by Nathan O’ Connor at the restart marked the beginning of Lynx’s downfall as four MMU tries in the closing 10 minutes of the game hammered the final nail in the coffin as the final whistle blew for a 52-26 victory to MMU.
The scoreline was however no reflection of the match in which every Lynx player gave their all against an extremely tough opposition. With a full squad, things may have been very different, but no one can question the commitment of the lads who played with many of them battling through injuries of their own.
After a magnificent season that included winning the league title and reaching the quarter finals of the BUCS trophy, the Lynx can hold their heads high as being one of the most successful sporting clubs at Lancaster this year.