Longton and Staffordshire rivals, Walsall, met for the first time in many years at Trentham Fields and came out with a 20pts. all draw.
Once again Longton were forced to make a number of team changes from last week. Leading try scorers Mark Dougherty and Joe Hall were absent as were strong ball carriers Paul Housley and Eroni Lequai. In addition, Gaz Rawlings, Same Bedworth and Nicolas Gomtard were still nursing injuries. They did though welcome the return of Martin Ellis and Ant Cornwell to the pack.
Walsall made the better start and were rewarded with a 9th. minute penalty to take a 3 point lead. However, Longton responded well and their forwards were dropped a pass in theirtotally dominating the scrums. Unfortunately,they could not take advantage, of their superiority. Several times they were within a few metres of the Walsall try line but could not finish with a try. It was not until late in the half that they managed to level the scores. This after both sides lost a player to the sin bin for a minor facas.Deep into injury time Ben Turner kicked a penalty from 10m. to make the half-time score 3-3pts.
With only 5mins. of the 2nd. half gone Walsall scored their first try out on the wide left following a missed tackle from the defence. The conversion missed leaving Walsall in front at 8-3pts.
Once again Longton were spending a lot of time in their opponents “22” which eventually resulted in a try in the 14th. minute. The pack drove hard for the line with Rich Thompson getting the touchdown. The conversion failed to find the mark leaving the scores level at 8pts.all. However, 3 minutes later Longton dropped a pass in their own “22” allowing Walsall to snap up possession and dive over. The conversion missed leaving Walsall back in front at 13-8pts.
The visitors then lost a man to the sin bin and Longton took almost immediately. From a scrum 5m. out No.8, Pete Wilshaw, picked up and forced his way over. Paul Green converted to put his side ahead for the first time at 15-13pts.
Walsall lost another man to the sin bin but with 35mins. of the half gone they kicked a penalty to the corner and then drove over from the lineout. The Walsall looked to have sewn up victory. Longton though, were not finished as they stormed back, again through their powerful forwards. Within the last few minutes of normal time they kicked a penalty deep into the Walsall “22” and from the lineout their forwards drove over with hooker, George Glenn, getting the vital touchdown. The conversion just went wide left but the scores were now level at 20pts. all. Deep into injury time Longton were awarded a penalty 35m. out and 20m. to the right of the posts. Paul Green went for goal but his kick missed just left and the referee blew for full-time.
Longton will regret not finishing off the many chances they had but were happy that their depleted side battled bravely for the draw.Next week Longton travel to Burntwood and will be hoping to secure a win at the team currently second from bottom.