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After the resounding win against Chester the previous week, Lancaster Lynx returned to the Bailrigg Bowl for their first home match of the season, with the bar already set high on what looks to be a very promising season ahead. Salford were the very tough visitors, who beat Lancaster last season by 50-14. Though they were clearly not as eager to play this time around, requesting a delay in kick-off till 3pm.
With the Lynx chomping at the bit on a drizzly day, the match kicked-off. In the opening tussles Lancaster showed some great defensive work before returning the kick and working the middle of the pitch well. Salford then knocked on after some more great defensive efforts forcing the error. Moments later Paddy Boyers put in a grubber that Matty ‘Squirrel’ Canavan latched onto to score his first try in a Lynx shirt, to make it 4-0. Despite the conversion being missed, there was more good news soon to follow for the Lynx, as from the restart Salford kicked out on the full. Lancaster took full advantage of this and forced a dropout, consolidating a superb start from the Lynx.
After some tough battles through the middle and solid completion from both teams, Lancaster eventually forced another mistake from Salford, leaving them with a scrum on their 30 metre line. Lancaster again ran well with the ball and got out of their own half before winning the first penalty of the match for Salford being offside. Off the next set Jacob ‘Chucky’ Ashton-Brookes took a high-shot, one for most which would have barely reached their chests, leaving the Lynx on Salford’s try-line. But Lancaster failed to capitalise and Salford trotted back up the field.
After a brief lapse in concentration from the sturdy Lancaster defence Salford scored and converted to give them a two point advantage. Lancaster returned the ball from the kick-start and Salford knocked on. The Lynx attacked well and forced an opportunity in the corner, with James ‘Smokey’ Whitfield touching down a Boyers kick. However the referee chalked it off without any obvious reason, much to Lancaster’s disbelief.
Salford then began to ramp up the pressure on the Lynx defence, but to no avail. Minutes later they won a scrum on the Lancaster try-line, but play suddenly stopped caused by a suspect injury in the scrum. Fresher Arran ‘Daddy’ Sewell was worryingly out cold. Half-time was called early in order for treatment to take place and after some great work from Salford’s physios and utilisation of Lancaster’s new centipede-like sub-jackets, Sewell was clapped off the pitch and whisked to hospital. Though when asked on the stretcher if he was well, he seemed more concerned that he hadn’t been able to swap dresses for the charity shop social that evening. Good priorities.
There was a brief worry with how Lancaster would cope without their highly effective number 9, but Nathan ‘S. Hitout’ O’Connor timed his return to the fold perfectly (now in his fifth year representing the Lynx) and came on for the start of the second half.
Almost immediately after the half got underway, O’Connor made his impact with a great try under the sticks, followed by a Matt ‘Sid’ Tye conversion, leaving the score at 10-6 to Lancaster. After the restart some more impressive Lynx defence saw another mistake from Salford with a knock-on on halfway. The set was solid and pegged Salford back well in their own half. They then lost the ball after Sammy G put on a big hit. From the resulting set Lynx scored another try, O’Connor with his second after a scoot from dummy-half, but they again failed to convert. Lancaster were daring to dream, but could they hold on?
The paramedics had to be dialled again after the restart, with another head injury this time to a Salford player. The Salford physios were again impeccable, certainly earning their stripes on this afternoon. After the stoppage in play and knocks this time to Jake ‘Thumper’ Guria-Garnett and Chris Hall, Salford scored a try, leaving the scoreboard at 14-10 to Lancaster.
Soon after the restart, great work from Tye meant Lancaster got the ball back close to Salford’s line. Despite pressure, it was ultimately in vain as Salford’s defence stayed strong. They then worked the ball back up the pitch but Lancaster’s gritty defence again prevailed, a common theme of the afternoon. Lancaster returned well and a long kick down field saw a mistake from Salford’s winger, knocking on inside his own 10 metre line. The Lynx were rewarded the scrum but after another questionable refereeing decision, conceded it.
Salford began driving back up the field, attacking the left hand-side. After some more goal-line scrambling from the Lynx, their defence looked impregnable. With ten minutes to go another player went down injured, marking a truly brutal match. 999 was called for a final time as the Salford player suffered a suspected shattered shoulder.
Due to the length of time taken to treat the player along with the several other delays the referee called the match, leaving Lancaster top of the league with two wins from two. A truly awesome display, particularly in defence from Lancaster, who beat a team that had previously put 50 points past them, sending a message out to the rest of the league that Lancaster Lynx mean business this season.
Plaudits to the KO’d Arran ‘Daddy’ Sewell who still managed to make it to social.