Burnley 0, Garstang 7
GARSTANG had a week off league rugby on Saturday as they took part in the Second Round of the Lancashire Bowl.
A trip to Burnley was a fixture which Garstang definitely felt that they could win despite losing there in mid-November.
In awful conditions the game was never going to be pretty and so it proved as Garstang ground out a dramatic late win.
In the first half Garstang had the advantage as a howling gale was blowing diagonally across the pitch in their favour. However, they could not take advantage of this and struggled to establish any sort of control in that period.
In the opening moments Garstang got a rolling maul moving from thirty metres out and they rumbled to within metres of the line before getting held up just short. At the time it looked like Garstang would have no problem in the game but this really proved to be as good as it got in the first half. Burnley dominated the breakdown and they forced Garstang into loads of errors. Incredibly the half time break came with the scores locked at 0-0.
The second period saw Garstang improving and, despite playing into the wind, they started to get territorial dominance. However, chances were still at a premium and neither side really looked like breaking the deadlock.
Midway through the half Miller was sent to the sin bin for an act of petulance as he threw the ball at one of the Burnley players in frustration. This forced Garstang to ring the changes and they unloaded their bench with Jones, O’Brien, Pye and Ayers all coming onto the field of play to join Tissing who had come on in the first half to replace the unlucky Chaplin who broke his hand.
With the clock ticking down Burnley also had a couple of men despatched to the bin and this gave Garstang the belief that they could win the game in a grandstand finish. A 0-0 draw is a rare beast in rugby but Garstang had the comfort of knowing that if scores had remained as they were they would go through to the next round as the criteria for separating tied teams in this competition is try count, then kick count and if they are equal the away team goes through.
With just a few minutes to go Garstang spilled the ball in midfield, a Burnley player pounced and hacked the ball forward, he was clean through bearing down with the try line at his mercy and all he had to do was control the ball over the line. Fortunately for Garstang as he tried to control the ball he kicked it too far forward and it agonisingly rolled dead.
This was the let off that Garstang needed and when they got a couple of penalties with less than five minutes to go they used their battering rams of Orr and Miller to take the ball into contact. The crowd got behind the team and they built unstoppable momentum with the line in sight. Having gone through a dozen phases the ball was worked to the Harvey Jones at the back and he smashed over the line and forced the ball down despite the attention of two defenders. McLennan added the extra two points and, with just two minutes left to play, the game was virtually won.
The referee somehow managed to extend the final two minutes to more than five but Garstang held on to claim yet another victory.
Garstang: Pendlebury, Anscomb, Miller, Parkinson, Raby, Richardson, Slater, Orr, Nickson, Robinson, Taylor, McLennan, Chaplin, Walling, Bell. Replacements: Jones, O’Brien, Lambert, Tissing, Pye, Ayers.
* ON Saturday, January 28, the 1st XV are away again, this time in the league against North Manchester. The Blues are also travelling to Manchester and they are up against Eccles 2nds. Both games kick off at 2.15pm.