Longton dominated lengthy periods of the game at Crewe and Nantwich but the penalty count of around 30 conceded meant that the home side could keep the scoreboard moving without ever looking like scoring tries until the last few minutes by landing four of the most kickable of these awards in a 17-12pts. win.
In Longton’s case it was another example of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, made worse by the number of spilled passes.
The game started badly for Longton when they conceded their first penalty after only 30secs. For holding on at the breakdown. The 3-0pts. lead did not last long though when Longton scored the opening try of the game after 5mins. Paul Green kicked a penalty to within 8m. of the opposition try line. The lineout ball was moved quickly into the backs for centre, Joe Hall, to burst through to touch down. The conversion went wide but Longton led by 5-3pts.
It was not until the 22nd. minute that the next score came. awarded a penalty 35m out came. The hosts were awarded a penalty 35m. out and straight in line with the posts. The simple kick made it 6-5pts. to C & N. With 5mins. of the half-time the home team were awarded another penalty some 40m. out but the kick went wide. However, the home team did not have long to wait for their next penalty some 5mins. into injury time. On this occasion the kick from 45m. was good making the half-time score 9-5pts.
Longton had the advantage of the wind in the second half and only 8mins had gone when Paul Housley made one of his trademark charges through the middle to score under the posts. The conversion was good putting Longton ahead by 12-9pts.
For the next 15mins. Longton had the better of the exchanges with their pack beginning to dominate the scrums but their lineout was proving to be their Achilles heel.
With 25mins. gone another of the vast number of penalties conceded by Longton allowed C&N to equalise the scores at 12pts. each. The home team went onto the attack for the last 5mins. but with Longton winning good ball about 8m. from their own line they decided to run it wide when it was calling for a big kick upfield with the strong wind behind it. Spilled ball meant C&N had a scrum and the spun the ball wide left to find a gap in the Longton defensive line to score their only try of the match in the left-hand corner. The conversion failed but it was now 17-12pts.
With just a few minutes remaining Longton threw everything into attack and took play in front of the opposition posts with some powerful forward drives. As the try line approached the Longton players seemed convinced that their drive had crossed the line but the referee ruled not. Then Longton were awarded a penalty some 8m. out and in front of the posts. They chose to tap and go as Pete Wilshaw led the charge but as they approached the line the ball was not at the back of the maul allowing the C&N forwards to hold the ball up and so win a scrum. The Crewe defender kicked the ball dead and the final whistle blew leaving the home side winners by 17-12pts. leaving Longton to rue the many missed chances and the enormous number of penalties conceded. What should have been a 5 point return was only a single losing bonus point.