Longton 1st XV 26 v 32 Halesonians
Longton surrendered a 26 – 25pts. lead in the last play of the match when hosts, Old Halesonians, scored a try under the posts to register a 32 – 26pts. victory. This defeat consigns Longton to the third relegation spot in Midlands West One.
In perfect playing conditions and on a superb pitch the home side got off to the best possible start with a try after 90secs. It came from a chip over the advancing Longton backs before collecting the ball and racing in to touch down. The conversion missed but a 5 point lead was a great start.
In the 8th. minute Old Hales conceded a penalty at a scrum just outside their own “22” and in midfield. Unfortunately, Sam Bedworth’s kick went just wide of the right-hand upright.
The next 25mins. were fairly evenly contested with both sides making occasional handling errors. However, in the 33rd. minute Longton had a scrum 5m. out from the home try line but the latter conceded a penalty from which Longton took a quick tap and were able to crash over levelling the scores at 5pts. all.
Three minutes later the home side won a scrum ball on the right to score their second try. Again, the conversion failed, making it 10 – 5pts. by the interval.
Longton grabbed the initiative early in the second half when they scored an early try which Sam Bedworth converted to give his side a 12 – 10pts. lead. However, the home side were next to score in this see-saw battle. They were awarded a penalty on the Longton “22” with scrum-half, Sam Bedworth, shown a yellow card for offside. The kick was placed deep into the Longton “22” and from the lineout they executed several pick – and – drives before crashing over for the try. The conversion attempt failed but the home side now led by 15 – 12pts.
Shortly after this Longton No. 8, Pete Wilshaw, was very harshly yellow carded leaving Longton down to 13 men. The home team took advantage of their numerical superiority when the ball was moved wide right from a scrum in the Longton “22”. The winger scored in the corner to put Old Hales 20 – 12pts. ahead.
With 28mins. of the half gone Paul Housley made a storming run out of defence to set up a superb Longton try. The conversion was good making it 20 – 19pts. Four minutes later Old Hales struck again when they attacked down the right flank to score wide out. The conversion missed but the hosts now led by 25 – 19pts.
Shortly after though Sam Evans seized onto a loose ball to kick ahead and then won the chase for the ball to touch down under the posts for a vital try. The conversion from Sam Bedworth was good putting Longton 26 – 25pts. in front. The excitement was not over as Old Hales took play deep into the Longton “22”. In a valiant attempt to thwart the attack scrum-half, Sam Bedworth, was shown a second yellow card, thus becoming red. From a scrum some 10m. out from the Longton line Old Hales quickly passed the ball into their back division from where their numerical superiority gave a centre the gap to run in under the posts. The conversion was the final nail in the Longton coffin making the score 32 – 26pts. and this turned out to be the last play of the game, a cruel conclusion to a fighting display by Longton.
Longton’s 2 points gained were not enough to give them a chance of avoiding relegation in the last match, at home next week to local rivals, Stoke. It was, however, a gallant performance by a Longton side missing the powerful influence of Scott Rawlings in midfield.