Longton 1st XV 28 v 41 Peterborough Lions
Longton faced unbeaten Peterborough Lions at Trentham Fields on a rainy afternoon with a much depleted side and put up a brave fight before going down by 41pts. to 28.
Wingers Billy Wara and Pete Clifton, centre and goal kicker, Grant Hallam, hooker George Glenn, flanker Sam Longstaff and No.8 Mickey Allen were all absent. Second team wingers Simms and Thorley were making their first team debuts.
It was evident from the outset that Peterborough Lions had a clear advantage of over a stone a man in weight and several inches a man in height and it was clearly going to be a mammoth challenge for the weakened home side.
The early signs confirmed the size of the task facing Longton as Lions opened at a storming pace. With 7 minutes gone the visitors opened the scoring when their big No.8 went storming through several tackles to score under the posts; the conversion made it 7pts. to nil. Then, 4 minutes later Peterborough stole the ball and kicked long towards Longton’s right corner, winning the touchdown for the try. The conversion missed making it 12 – 0pts.
The visitors domination of possession continued and in the 15th. minute converted a penalty from 25m. to make the score 15 – 0pts. There was no respite in the pressure as the visitors domination of possession continued and they duly added their third try on 20 minutes with a try in the left hand corner. The difficult conversion missed, the score now being 20pts. to nil.
Longton finally began to win some possession and took play into the away “22” before a wayward pass gave the ball away allowing Lions to sprint the length of the field to record their fourth try. The conversion was good taking Peterborough into a 27 – 0pts. lead, with the real prospect of a 70 point scoreline looking highly likely.
With 5 minutes to the break there was a chink of light for Longton. Scott Rawlings put a penalty inside the visitors’ “22”. The forwards won the lineout and drove hard for the line resulting in No.8, Pete Wilshaw, diving over for his side’s opening try. Tom Vickers, taking over the kicking duties from the absent Grant Hallam, slotted over the conversion in assured manner to send Longton into the break encouraged but still 27 – 7pts. down.
The second half began as the first had done when the powerful Tongan centre, Semesi Tei, scorched through several despairing tackles to score under the posts, with the conversion making it 34 – 7pts. Then, with only 7 minutes of the half gone the Lions No.10 jinked his way through to score under the posts and with the simple conversion being good it was now 41 –7 pts. with 33 minutes still left on the clock.
The game surprisingly turned on its head in the 16th. minute when a series of pick-and-drives by the Longton pack saw the outstanding Pete Wilshaw crash over. Tom Vickers conversion made the score 41 – 14pts.
The next 15 minutes saw Longton beginning to win more sustained possession as Lions former Tongan international hooker, who had played in two World Cups, was substituted. With 31 minutes gone the hosts drove relentlessly for the visitors’ line before scrum half, Lee Brogan, nipped over for the try. Again, the immaculate boot of Tom Vickers converted and it was now 41 – 21pts.
As the final minutes ticked away Lions lost possession deep into Longton territory allowing the ever-alert Jack Newton-Taylor to hack the ball downfield where after two more kicks he then won the race for the touchdown for a fine bonus point try. Tom Vickers maintained his 100% kicking record with the conversion taking the score to 41 -28pts. with the final whistle blowing immediately after.
At the end of the day this was a battling performance from Longton against a Peterborough Lions team who will clearly be vying for the top spot with Newport and Birmingham Solihull. This was a classic case of the highly rewarded against the strictly amateur which clearly typifies this current level of rugby in the Midlands.
For Longton, Pete Wilshaw had an outstanding match and young Tom Vickers showed great maturity, and looked quite at home in the centre in a young backline.
Next week is a blank Saturday with Sandbach away the following week.