Fine display puts visitors’ title hopes to the sword

Adam Nickson making a break.
Adam Nickson making a break.

North Lancs Division One

Garstang 25

Littleborough 12

Garstang First XV put in one of their finest displays for many seasons as they dominated a Littleborough team who arrived at Hudson Park still harbouring title winning aspirations.

A fired up Garstang team started on the front foot and they were playing with an incredible amount of intensity. However, David Miller let his emotions get the better of him and he was despatched to the sin bin for ten minutes for some needless retaliation.

The visitors looked good with ball in hand and they were able to exploit the extra man when they put in a pin point cross kick which was snaffled up by the unmarked winger who raced in to open the scoring (0-5).

Garstang weren’t phased by this early score and stuck to their game plan. They fluffed a couple of chances but they were putting ‘Boro under serious pressure and the penalty count was stacking up against the visitors. From one such penalty they opted to kick the ball for the corner. The line out was won and the dominant forwards marched the ‘Boro pack backwards before John O’Brien crashed over the line to level the scores (5-5).

Garstang got the perfect start to the second period as they took the lead for the first time with a well worked try. Gavin Barton sped down the blindside after receiving the ball from a maul and popped it to John O’Brien who raced down the touchline before returning the ball to Barton. He was tackled but the ball was recycled quickly and shipped out to the other touchline to Dawson who was able to squeeze over the line (10-5).

With just one defeat all season Littleborough were never going to go down without a fight and they put together their best period of play to put the Garstang line under severe pressure. The defence was heroic as ‘Boro were camped on the line for five minutes. Eventually the pressure told and they got the score which took them back into the lead (10-12).

At this stage Garstang heads could have gone down but they were calm and they came back at ‘Boro with added intensity. Another penalty was kicked to the corner, another line out was won and another maul was marched over the line with Ben Kelsall emerging from the bottom of the pile with the score. McLennan added the extras and Garstang had the lead with ten minutes to play (17-12).

Littleborough, sensing the game was getting away from them, launched a desperate attack with five minutes to play. The ball was spilled and Adam Nickson sharply scooped it up, raced down the touchline and, with just green grass in front of him, he looked sure to score but the cover tackler did superbly well to get across to him. Unfortunately his desperate tackle was high and he was sent to the sin bin.

From the subsequent penalty the same old formula worked again. Kick to the corner, line out won, ball worked back and Garstang marched the tired Littleborough pack over the line and Ben Kelsall grounded the ball for his second of the afternoon (22-12).

As time ran down Garstang mounted another attack but were illegally stopped. They took the kick for goal from the penalty and Mclennan slotted it over as the final score of the afternoon (25-12).

Team: Miller, Barton, Kenyon, Everest (C), Whitaker, Billington, Slater, O’Brien, Nickson, Dawson, Dugdale, McLennan, Knowles, Robinson, Rowbottom. Replacements: Kelsall, Johnston, Davies

This Saturday the 1st XV have blank weekend but the Blues host Whitchurch 3rds in the BEST Shield quarter final, KO 2.15pm.