Warrington Fall to Vale of Lune Again
By David Jervis
Visitors demonstrate why they are league champions
WARRINGTON 24 VALE OF LUNE 72
The league title was already in Vale of Lune’s pocket by the time this game kicked off but this did not detract from an entertaining, if latterly one-sided, exhibition of running rugby. Warrington, keen to avoid a repetition of their earlier thrashing away, started with great determination and control,shrugging off the unfortunate loss of full back Dixon who had to retire with an injured shoulder after his first touch of the ball. Young Tom McEniff stepped in as replacement on the wing with Max Caldwell filling the full back slot.
Almost before Vale had touched the ball, stand-off Tom Wood breached the Vale defence and handed back to scrum-half Ben Hockenhull who took the ball to the try line. Though brought down just short he found Steve Pilkington in close support and the centre touched down under the posts for an easy Hockenhull conversion.
Warrington’s lead was short-lived, however, as the Vale full back collected the restart kick in the air and quickly set the ball moving down the line. Direct running, sharp passing and a final well timed off-load put the right winger in for a try in the corner and Vale were even.
Warrington had the majority of possession making steady ground with a combination of forward drives, notably from Downes and Jones, and more rapier-like incursions from centres Hughes and Pilkington. Throwing a kicking option into the mix mid-way through the half, however, was Warrington’s undoing. Vale collected cleanly, evaded the chasers and with some hall mark counter attacking scored this time with the forwards finishing off. Hockenhull reduced the deficit to one point with two penalties when Vale infringed at breakdowns in their 22.
With five minutes to the interval, Warrington appeared to have stifled a Vale attack when good tackling resulted in loose ball, but a wild hack put the ball back in Vale hands for their third converted try. Warrington still had the majority of possession but some good choke tackling by Vale turned over ball and eased the pressure that Warrington was exerting. On forty minutes, however, stand-off Wood put centre Hughes going at pace through a gap on the right. Winger Beesley finished off. Hockenhull’s conversion hit the post but did not go over leaving Warrington just 3 adrift at the interval.
Two more penalties from the Hockenhull boot put Warrington into the lead by the fiftieth minute but again this lead was short lived. Vale were awarded a try in the corner although the ball appeared to have been held up. There was no such doubt about the next try 2 minutes later when the Vale winger executed a neat chip kick, collected the ball side -stepped the last of the defence and touched down out wide.
With another try from the restart, Vale stretched their lead to nineteen points and Warrington were playing catch-up rugby. When it might have paid them to slow the pace of the game, Warrington stuck to their high speed game but the energy needed for this was beginning to evaporate. Vale’s superior fitness became evident as they pounced on any Warrington mistakes and always seemed to have more men to finish their counterattacks. Vale finished the game off with five more tries.
Coach Roberts said “ I liked the intensity we brought to the first fifty minutes. Although we could not maintain it, this was a big improvement on our visit to Vale earlier in the season.”