Longton met Staffordshire rivals Burntwood for the first time in many years and returned with an impressive 52-17pts, victory, giving a stunning performance of all round 15 man rugby.
Longton were without key forwards Rich Thompson and Tim Wareham, plus experienced back, Paul Green but were strengthened by the return of Gaz Rawlings and Nicolas Gomtard.
Fresh from a coaching session on Thursday with England and Wasps scrum-half, Dan Robson, Longton were determined to attack from all quarters of the pitch straight from the first minute and were rewarded with eight tries in the game
The home side started the stronger and ran the ball from their own half and were rewarded after just 3mins.with a penalty on the Longton “22” and in front of the posts for a 3 point lead. However, 6mins’ later Longton moved the ball rapidly from left to right into the home “22” where they exhibited pressure on the Burntwood defence before a pick up and drive led to a try which Joe Hall converted to put Longton 7-3pts. ahead.
Both sides continued to attack at every opportunity, with the home side matching Longton with their enterprise. It was not long though before the next score came. 39th.mforwards took over with a powerful drive which saw hooker, George Glenn, touch down for the second try. Joe Hall converted to put Longton further ahead by 14-3pts. More was to follow as, from the kick-off, the visitors moved the ball left from their own half from a lineout. The ball was whipped out to the backs and swift, accurate passing giving well-timed release produced the next try. Again the conversion was good giving Longton a 21-3pts. lead.
Just 3mins. later Longton attacked again from their own half with another display of Barbarian-style rugby. The backs finished off the move with scrum-half, Nicolas Gomtard, touching down. This time the difficult conversion fell just short into the strong headwind but Longton now led by 26-3pts with a bonus point secured. Once again Longton ran the ball from the kick-off as the safe hands of Pete Wilshaw and strong ball carrying, once more setting up possession; a quick ball transfer from the right saw the strong running Paul Housley charge through for a try converted by Joe Hall to put Longton 33-3pts. ahead.. Longton lost centre, Mark Dougherty with a leg injury but it failed to lessen their attacking intent.
All credit to Burntwood as they continued to play running rugby and it paid off in the 39th. minute. From a penalty 35m. from the Longton try line they ran the ball and drove hard at the line to crash over for their first try. The conversion was good making it 33-10pts. In the 6th. minute of injury time Paul Housley was yellow carded for an illegal tackle and Burntwood took immediate advantage. They kicked the penalty into the Longton “22” and ran the ball from the ensuing lineout to find a gap in the Longton defence to score their second try. The conversion took the half-time score to 33-17pts. reminding Longton that this game was far from over.
The second half was 12mins. old when the restored Paul Housley scored a superb try with Joe Hall’s conversion making the score 40-17pts.
Longton now had a vice-like grip on the game and the next try shortly after. From a lineout 8m. out Pete Wilshaw plunged over. The conversion was good giving Longton an unassailable 47-17pts. lead.
The avalanche of tries continued when in the 6th. minute of injury time Longton moved the ball out into midfield and some strong running led to the final try. The difficult was missed leaving the final score at 52-17pts. In those last few minutes Longton were denied another try when the final pass to the wing was deemed forward as he sped into the corner.
The final whistle brought to an end a most entertaining game of high quality rugby from both sides with the good-sized crowd appreciating the efforts of both sides, played in a great spirit.
It was hard to pick out a man-of-the-match for Longton but outstanding performances came from Pete Wilshaw, Ben Turner and Nicolas Gomtard. Clearly, the euphoria of the superb session under Dan and Simon Robson registered with all of the Longton squad.
This win secured Longton’s 5th. placed position in the league.