GARSTANG travelled to Hutton on Saturday, knowing that they would have to be at the top of their game to get anything against the team who are second in the league, chasing promotion.
Garstang put in a strong performance, and left the pitch feeling that they lost a game which will have to be filed away in the “could have won” category.
The previous week, the team scored a great try within minutes of the whistle, and history repeated itself as Garstang stormed into a 7-0 lead.
Garstang were on the Hutton line from the start, but in their eagerness they gave a penalty away.
Hutton cleared but Garstang nicked the ball in the subsequent line out, as it was spun out wide to Robinson he broke the line before drawing the last man, and passing to McLennan who had enough in the tank to get over the line. He then got up and added the extra two points, to give Garstang a dream start (0-7).
Garstang’s once solid scrummage has come under pressure in recent weeks, and they struggled once more against an experienced Hutton pack.
Their plight was compounded shortly after when the influential hooker Rob Anscomb had to leave the field with a nasty head wound.
The Hutton physio patched him up (but minutes later he had to leave the field as his head continued to bleed.
The consequence of this was that Harvey Jones had to enter the field and, while he will be the first to admit, he does not have the dynamism of Anscomb, he was able to help shore up the retreating scrummage.
Hutton reduced the gap to 7-3 and were starting to put Garstang under pressure. In the run-up to the break they were putting unbelievable pressure on the Garstang line, and the defence worked overtime. This eventually told and Dave Miller was the unlucky recipient of a yellow card, as he was deemed to have come into the breakdown from the side.
Hutton eventually forced their way over in the corner. The place kicker struck a beauty from the touchline to add the extras, and send Hutton into a 10-7 lead at the interval.
Within minutes of the restart, Garstang were awarded a penalty which was kickable, but far from easy.
However, McLennan got a good strike on the ball and it sailed over to level the scores at 10-10.
Things got even better a few minutes later, as McLennan added another easier kick to edge Garstang into a 13-10 lead.
While Hutton maintained a threat, it was Garstang who looked the more likely scorers, and when McLennan broke the line, a try was on the cards. However, he couldn’t get the inside pass away, and the chance was lost as the ball went out wide.
With just 10 minutes left, Hutton started to put pressure on the Garstang line. A desperate effort at a clearance kick was charged down, and the winger scooped the ball up and dived over in the corner. Another superb conversion put Hutton back into the lead at 17-13.
This score seemed to take the pressure off the Hutton backline, who had faltered at times, and they strung together their best move of the day, to score another try in the corner, and seal the 22-13 victory.
The final score was cruel on Garstang, and they left bitterly disappointed that they didn’t even have the consolation of the losing bonus point.
However, they can be pleased with parts of their game which were a distinct improvement on the showing against Bolton the previous week.
Garstang: Pendlebury, Anscomb, Miller, Raby, Orr, Slater, Pye, O’Brien, Nickson, Robinson, Walling, McLennan, Kelsall, Taylor, Bell. Replacements: Jones, Richardson, Parkinson, Gardner.
n THE Blues were also playing away, and they were up against Ormskirk Seconds, but they slipped to a disappointing 37-0 defeat.
On Saturday, February 25, the 1st XV are playing St Edward’s Old Boys in a rearranged game, which was postponed a fortnight ago. Kick-off at 2pm, followed by the England v Wales game in the clubhouse. The Blues have a free weekend.