Blues reach the semi finals after nail-biting game played at speed

Ian Walling, above, provided two of the tries in this thrilling match
Ian Walling, above, provided two of the tries in this thrilling match
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Garstang Blues moved into the Semi Finals of the BEST Shield with an exciting 31-19 win in a topsy-turvy game.

As you would expect in a game of this magnitude the opening exchanges were played at breakneck speed with no quarter asked or given.

When the tempo of the game did settle down Garstang started to get on top and it was no surprise when Duncan Lambert went over for the opening try. Kieran Davies added the extras to give the Blues a 7-0 lead.

Almost from the restart the Blues went on the rampage again and when the ball was worked out to Ian Walling he was able to pass his man and score in the corner (12-0).

Garstang were well and truly on top at this stage and then Tom Smeaton opened his account with a well taken try which extended the lead to 19-0 at half time.

The second half carried on as the first when Tom Smeaton doubled his tally and extended the lead as he scored a try in the corner to make a very comfortable 24-0 lead.

Whitchurch had made a 90 mile journey from Shropshire and in the first 45 minutes of play it looked like the long trip had taken it out of them. However ten minutes into the half they got a try to give themselves a glimmer of hope (24-7).

This score seemed to give them a boost and all of a sudden they were starting to dominate scoring their second try of the afternoon midway through the half (24-12).

With ten minutes to play the plucky visitors got their third try to close the gap to just five points (24-19).

At this stage the momentum was all with the visitors.

The final minutes were incredibly tense with both sides gifting the other possession. With just a couple of minutes to play Whitchurch kicked the ball deep into the Garstang half.

Tom Smeaton brought it back with interest before passing it down the backline, the ball came to Duncan Lambert who threw an outrageous dummy which the covering defender fell for to allow Lambert to race in under the posts. The conversion was clipped over and the game ended with Garstang as relieved victors.

The win puts the Blues into the semi-finals and they have been drawn away against Dukinfield 2nds on March 14, KO 3pm. This weekend there is a full programme of rugby. On Saturday the 1st XV are away at North Manchester and the Blues are at home to Aspull.

On Sunday morning the Mini/Juniors have a full programme of home games against Burnley and in the afternoon the Sparlings (Ladies) host Chester Devas.