Longton 1st XV 44 v 14 Doncaster Phoenix
Longton continued their good form of last week’s win over Stoke to defeat a highly rated Doncaster Phoenix team by the convincing margin of 44pts. to 14 despite the absence of Sam Evans, Eddie Askew and Tom Vickers, plus the now-departed Liam Price who has returned to South Wales. Sam Longstaff played in the unfamiliar position for him at outside centre with Christian Prince on the wing.
Under threatening skies the first few minutes belonged to the visitors who looked dangerous with ball in hand and who retained possession very well, particularly by their back division which contained former Longton player, Seva Bulumakau, on the right wing. However, the Longton defence stood firm with Scott Rawlings and Sam Longstaff in the centre proving particularly solid.
With 8 minutes gone Longton struck when the pack drove powerfully for the line to open the scoring, Craig Wilson getting the touchdown. Grant Hallam converted for a 7pts. to nil lead. Then, with 15 minutes gone Grant Hallam put over a superb penalty from 40m. to make it 10 – 0pts.
The next 12 minutes were evenly fought with the Phoenix backs showing good pace and the Longton forwards totally dominating the set scrums. In the 27th. minute Longton struck again when their pack drove hard for the line from a 5m. scrum with No.8, Pete Wilshaw, who had another superb game, touching down; Grant Hallam converted to make it 17 – 0pts.
Doncaster were trying desperately to find holes in the Longton defence but the tackling was sound and the visitors created no real scoring opportunities. In the 30th. minute Longton scored their third try when once again the forwards executed several drives from their dominant scrum before the visitors’ pack crumpled under the pressure. The referee immediately ran under the posts to award a penalty try. Half-time arrived with Longton holding a healthy 24pts. to nil lead.
The second half was only 3 minutes old when Longton scored their 4th., and bonus point try. The backs probed left and right, finally breaking left. The ball was passed to Christian Prince who pushed off two attempted tackles to touch down in the corner. The difficult conversion from Grant Hallam fell just short, the score now being 29 – 0pts. Two minutes later Doncaster finally broke through the Longton defence to score their first try and the conversion made it 29 – 7pts.
In the 13th. minute of the half Longton kicked a penalty to within 7m. of the visitors’ line from where the forwards once again set up a driving maul and stormed over the line for the 5th. try. The difficult conversion fell short, the score now being 34 – 7pts.
In the 23rd. minute of the half Doncaster took a quick tap penalty and aided by a couple of missed tackles scored their second try. The conversion made it 34 – 14pts. The visitors were beginning to gain in confidence but the Longton pack still had a strangled hold on possession. In the 32nd. minute the hosts kicked a penalty into the corner before driving the resultant lineout over with Pete Wilshaw getting the touchdown. The conversion missed but Longton now led by 39pts. to 14.
With just 3 minutes to go Longton scored their 7th. try, again following a penalty into the corner. The forwards drove over with Man-of-the Match, Pete Wilshaw, again getting the touchdown for the final score of the game making it 44pts. to 14, a very welcome 5 points for Longton and nothing for the visitors.
The unlucky Sam Longstaff had to be helped off the field towards the end of the game with an ankle injury, continuing the jinx on the Longton back division this season.
The Longton pack as a whole deserve special mention with Tim Wareham, Craig Wilson, Rich Thompson and Martin Ellis all carrying the ball strongly.
Next week Longton visit Staffordshire rivals, Lichfield, who recently lost their Staffordshire Cup Semi-Final against Burton, with the latter now facing Longton in the final later in the season.