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Lancaster Cats overpowered Liverpool John Moores on Wednesday Week 6 to progress to the semi-finals of the BUCS Northern Conference Cup. In a hotly anticipated tie, Lancaster’s Men’s 1sts suffered no issues as they blew away John Moores 65-5.
Straight from the kick-off, Lancaster’s intent was clear as they piled pressure on Liverpool’s try line. The Cats were as close to pitching up tents as possible, as they remained camped in their rivals’ twenty-two. For the whole of the first half, Liverpool failed to hold any possession near Lancaster’s try-line. This was reflected in the scoreline as the Cats ended the half 24 points to the good.
Although Liverpool exploded into life straight from the restart, it was ultimately the only points they gathered in the whole match. Lancaster reshaped and continued to be the dominant force over their southern opponents, scoring tries almost every time they went forward to eventually win 65-5.
With such anticipation ahead of this tie, it was relatively unclear to this naive reporter who was actually favourite for this. But in reality, Lancaster were in no danger. Liverpool were sporting, with spectators and players alike admitting that their expectations were slim. But that still shouldn’t take any of Lancaster’s accomplishments away from them; after all, they were immensely strong and could’ve beaten anyone with this performance.
The Cats’ early ascendancy was eventually rewarded as Sam Cusworth broke free on the left for a simple try, where Liverpool were outnumbered having spent the past minute defending vigorously on their tryline. Unfortunately Jack Jones couldn’t convert this instance, but Lancaster’s XV gave him plenty more opportunities to turn his right boot into points. The first try was an icebreaker to the match, proving that the Cats’ early pressure wasn’t just a false dawn.
Lancaster had the power in the rucks and scrums to push Liverpool back more, and almost capitalised straightaway, only for an overpowered pass on the left to escape Alex Savage’s grasp. But more strong work from the Cats, particularly Ollie Westwell charging through the centre to create space, made it 12-0 to Lancaster, after Jones’ first conversion of the match.
Courtesy of the Cats’ sponsors FGH, the squad had a free keg of Lancaster Blonde to hand around to the supporters and humble reporter, but unfortunately my eagerness to take up this generosity meant I had my back to the action as Lancaster made it 17-0. Savage later made it 22-0 shortly before half-time with a try, and Jones’ second successful kick gave Lancaster a healthy advantage as the referee’s whistle blew.
It was clear that Liverpool just couldn’t get a grip on the swamp-esque pitch they found themselves on, courtesy of our northern weather system being on opposite mode for the week. Four days of glorious sunshine was countered overnight by heavy rain, meaning the pitch was slippy and muddy come the kick-off, despite the rain subsiding.
The Cats were perhaps not entirely focussed on the restart, as Liverpool scored within seconds of the kick. But this only put Lancaster into a higher gear, as Josh Miller immediately countered. Jamie Griffiths also added his name to the scoresheet with a try on the right flank, completely outnumbered the Liverpool defence. Not even the best barristers in England could set up a defence for Lancaster’s ruthless attack.
Matty Johnston notched Lancaster’s seventh try of the afternoon, with a run that completely sliced through the Liverpool back row. Richard Clark and Sam Ackers made it eight and nine, the former courtesy of a beautiful pirouette on Liverpool’s tryline.
Although Liverpool were completely beaten by this point, they still tested the Cats’ defence in the vain hope of clawing back some pride, at least on the scoreline. The game was ultimately friendly, perhaps a sign of how much Lancaster were in control, as the Liverpool bench were more than happy to share a pint or two during and after the game.
Dom Lane and Lewis Cornelius added to the variety of names on the scoresheet close to the end of the match with simple efficient tries, with Jones converting the last to tot the score up to an incredible 65-5. Liverpool’s captain was still proud of his team for staying on this pitch to what he described as ‘much better opposition.’ With the scoreline obviously unassailable for Liverpool, the referee ended the game 10 minutes early to give the squad a chance to catch the rest of the 3rds’ 19-12 victory over close rivals UCUM.
The Cats have now won all ten out of ten games this season in the league and cup, and now face either UCLAN or Leeds’ 3rds in the semi-finals in Week 8. There’s no better way to continue the Roses’ build-up, where the results weren’t as desired in 2015 for the Cats. But in this form, Lancaster seem unstoppable.