Garstang refuse to buckle as high ball dominates

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Garstang Blues 18 
Ormskirk 2nds 10

Saturday saw Garstang welcome Ormskirk to a rather wet Hudson park.

Garstang’s skipper Duncan Lambert brought Chris Sullivan into the backs at fly-half to give a strong kicking option. Garstang resorted to kicking for territory and playing in Ormskirk’s half. This tactic paid dividends from the off and from a line out deep in Ormskirk’s half, Sullivan found Jake Jolleys on his inside shoulder. Jolleys took the ball at full pace and flattened Ormskirk’s 12, cantering in under the posts past the despairing dive of Ormskirk’s full back for Garstang’s first try. Unfortunately in horrendous conditions Lambert was unable to add the conversion.

Garstang reacted well and from the restart drove the ball back into Ormskirk’s 22, but a combination of resolute defending from the Ormskirk pack and the slippery ball meant Garstang were unable to capitalise.

After 30 minutes big Tom Kerr went off for a breather to be replaced by Richard Ayres and Danny ‘The Pirate’ Gunn came on at 9 for Lambert.

With Ormskirk also resorting to kicking for territory the first half settled into an aerial battle between the Ormskirk back line and Garstang’s. From one of these aerial ping pong sessions Ormskirk got the ball deep into Garstang’s half. Lansom and Walling tackled their winger into touch but as there was no touch judge on that side the referee, who had an otherwise good game, was unable to determine what had gone on and gave Ormskirk a penalty. Ormskirk kicked for touch gaining an attacking line out on Garstang’s five metre line. From this line out Ormskirk used what seems to be their favourite call of Aussie ball and formed a tight rolling maul to force their way over Garstang’s line. The conversion was excellently struck from the touchline and gave Ormskirk an unlikely lead.

Garstang piled the pressure onto Ormskirk’s pack from the restart forcing them back towards their 22 and ultimately winning a penalty in the ruck. Sullivan stepped up and coolly slotted the penalty allowing Garstang to go into the half time break in front.

After the break Garstang brought Tom Kerr back on for Richard Ayres to add his bulk to the already dominant scrum which was ruining any attacking ball Ormskirk were creating at source. The second half quickly got back into the same kicking pattern with the Blues more often than not coming out on top due to the intelligent kicking of Sullivan and Walling. When one of Ormskirk’s players touched the ball on the way out Garstang found themselves just inside Ormskirk’s 22 with an attacking line out. The ball was well delivered to the pack by Richard Quinn and the Garstang front 8 set off on a walk towards Ormskirk’s try line. As scrum half Gunn counted down the metres Garstang were not to be denied with Pat Haley dropping over the try line with the ball secured underneath him. Sullivan could not add the extras but Garstang now had a six point lead.

Ormskirk then threw the kitchen sink at Garstang but resolute tackling in the centres by Joe Taylor and Tom Smeeton and a wall of forwards gave Ormskirk no way through. Instead had to settle for a penalty just outside Garstang’s 22 which brought them to within three points with 20 minutes remaining.

The Ormskirk team were buoyant at this lifeline but Garstang refused to buckle. Lambert and veteran Ayres were reintroduced into the fray with Gunn moving to hooker replacing Richard Quinn. This injection of fresher legs, and Mr Ayres, gave Garstang fresh impetus and the rest of the game was played in the Ormskirk half with Garstang having their best spell. The conditions underfoot at this end of the pitch were a bit better, allowing the blues to introduce a few backs moves into a game otherwise dominated by the high ball. From one of these rare forays the ball was stabbed through into Ormskirk’s in goal area. Ian Walling got a shoe lace to it before he was fly hacked by Ormskirk’s 6 and the ball bounced kindly for Bruce Lansom who got his first try in Garstang colours dotting the ball over the line in the corner. The conversion was unsuccessful.

A combination of good forward play and sensible rugby allowed Garstang to make camp in the Ormskirk 22 before the referee blew the whistle.